Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) August 12, 2015 – Trucker Russell Staley says something in the cab of his truck distracted him before he plowed into a small bus carrying college softball players.
It was early evening on September 26, 2014 when 54-year-old Russell Staley wandered over the center line in his Quickway Transportation Inc. rig and hit the small bus, flipping it and shearing off one side. The collision killed four of the women onboard. Speculation at the time suggested he may have been impaired but police never charged him with DWI.
The police inventory of items found at the scene, after a search warrant was obtained, included a “silver smoking pipe with assembly, emitting an odor of burnt marijuana.” There was also a notation relating to prescription drugs found in a black Husky bag.
“Staley was charged with four counts of first-degree manslaughter in relation to this accident,” said Bobby Lee, an Austin big rig attorney not involved in this case. “He lost control of his tractor-trailer, crossed the center median on I-35 going 72 miles per hour and slammed into a small bus carrying North Central Texas College women’s softball team.” The team was on its way back to Gainsville, Texas, after a scrimmage with another team.
Staley told officers at the scene of the crash that something in the cab of his truck distracted him just prior to crossing the centerline and hitting the bus. Three softball players were pronounced dead at the scene. A fourth died later in hospital.
The family of one of the deceased girls has filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging Staley was not operating the semi in a safe manner, failed to adhere to the speed limit and was under the influence of one or more intoxicating substances. If Staley is convicted, he could face life behind bars.
“Until this case makes it to court and all the evidence is presented, it is difficult to predict an outcome. Based only on what it looks like on the surface, there may have been negligence involved, rather than a mechanical failure, and the plaintiffs may well win their case,” said Lee.
Lee, Gober & Reyna
11940 Jollyville Road #220-S
Austin, Texas 78759