Veteran Injured in Train Crash Hires Attorney

Sgt. First Class Richard Sanchez (left)
Sgt. First Class Richard Sanchez (left)

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Attorneys are now getting involved in Thursday's train crash. At least one veteran, who was on the float that was hit by the train, has hired lawyers.

Those attorneys held a press conference Tuesday outside the Midland County Courthouse.

Richard Sanchez is the veteran who has hired these attorneys and he was seriously hurt in the crash. Sgt. First Class Richard Sanchez fractured his spine.

We're told he can't feel or move his legs and there's a chance he may not walk again.

But the lawyers said they're looking for answers to this crash so that something like this never happens in the future.

31-year-old Richard Sanchez is slowly but surely recovering from the traumatic train crash that nearly killed him.

Sanchez and his wife, Heather, were on the second Show of Support float that was hit by the train.

"I remember it all from the first time I heard somebody yelling out 'train' to the arm coming down on my wife and then me pushing her and me getting thrown," Sanchez said.

They spoke exclusively to the Today Show about their ordeal.

"The next thing I know I was on the ground and I saw my husband laying in a ball," Heather said. "I thought he was dead, he wasn't moving, it didn't look like he was breathing, there was blood everywhere."

At a press conference Monday morning, Heather said they're trying to stay positive.

"Richard is in extreme pain but laughing and making jokes and trying to make the best out of the situation," Heather said.

But the couple has hired lawyers to represent them while details of the crash continue to unfold.

No lawsuit has been filed yet but attorney Kevin Glasheen said there are a lot of questions they want answered.

"We're gonna be looking at issues with the crossing itself and the warning time afforded by the light and gate system," Glasheen said.

Attorney Bob Pottroff specializes in railroad litigation. He said he's certain that this crossing should've had at least 30 seconds of warning time.

The NTSB investigation revealed that there was 20 seconds of warning time before impact.

"If you would've given these people another ten seconds worth of warning, that gate would've come down in front of the driver instead of behind this cab," Pottroff said. "This accident would've never happened."

Pottroff said the incline up to the tracks and the parallel roads on either side make this a complex crossing.

They're also focusing on past changes that may have had a role in the crash.

"I do know that there was a speed increase at this crossing," Pottroff said. "I don't know if they adjusted their signals to accommodate the higher speed trains or not."

Lawyers have made contact with Union Pacific and Smith Industries, the company who's truck was carrying the veterans.

"If we don't achieve an agreed order to produce the documents in particular the documents that are in that signal cabinet, we'll file our lawsuit to make sure this evidence is preserved," Pottroff said.

Both attorneys say they're not looking to place blame but rather to raise questions to get answers.

"You don't get change, you don't get safety unless all the facts and the issues come out," Pottroff said.