Families of Victims in Bus Crash Taking Legal Action

Families of Victims in Bus Crash Taking Legal Action

By Alicia Neaves
NewsWest 9

PENWELL - A family of one of the victims in the prisoner bus crash in Penwell is already taking legal action.

Due to client confidentiality, we are not permitted to release the name of the family who is seeking legal action. But as closure before some bury their loved ones, there are still many questions that need to be answered.

As cleanup crews pick up the pieces from Wednesday morning's accident, family members of the victims are still trying to piece together the events leading up to the crash.

"Some of these families lost loved ones and they deserve to know what happened," Israel Medina, Attorney at the Silva Law Firm in Odessa, said.

Many questioned the absence of seatbelts on the bus transporting the inmates and correctional officers.

Medina says he's worked cases where children sustained injuries in a bus accident. This case raises the same question: Could the injuries or deaths have been prevented with a seatbelt?

"It's kind of a bad situation. If kids are gonna be injured because there's no seatbelts on a school bus, much less are they gonna care about an inmate," Medina said.

In Texas, state law requires only the driver to wear a seatbelt on commercial and transport buses.

Jason Clark, the spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, says the bus was in full compliance with state and federal laws and that it was a new bus they were driving.

Medina says families also raised questions over the safety of the road conditions Wednesday morning, which played a lead role in the crash.

The TDCJ says it's routine to monitor weather and traffic alerts before hitting the road.

In a statement, they say, "Each morning, our transportation offices throughout the state check weather and road conditions through the TXDOT website, local law enforcement, DPS and local weather television stations for road closures on any of our bus routes."

Just how fast the bus was going before it slipped on the ice has yet to be determined.

"They have black boxes where they can download speeds, vehicle activity prior to the impact, prior to the collision," Medina said.

We're told the Texas Department of Criminal Justice will also conduct a serious incident review, where administrators will look at the security procedures, emergency response, the classification of the inmates and the vehicle to determine if any changes must be made.