DPS: Driver Who Caused Iraan Cheerleader Bus Crash Registered a BAC of 0.123
BIG SPRING, TX — The Texas DPS reported today that a drunk driver began the tragic chain of events that ended in the crash of the Iraan High School cheerleader bus Dec. 2, 2016, when driving home after a playoff game in Colorado City at 10:43 p.m.
According to a toxicology report released by DPS today, Sandra D. Dunson of Midland had a BAC of 0.123 that night. State law sets 0.08 Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) as the limit for safely operating a vehicle.
According to the final report, 59-year-old Dunson was driving eastbound on I-20 in a 2001 gold Buick Century. She struck the rear of a semi-trailer of a 2015 Peterbilt truck tractor that was also traveling east on I-20.
After being struck, the semi veered out-of-control, across the center median and into the oncoming westbound traffic. The short bus carrying the Iraan High cheerleaders struck the semi. A westbound white 2016 Ford Expedition was also involved in the crash. The Expedition was towed from the scene, but the two occupants were uninjured, the DPS report states.
The crash killed the Iraan High cheerleader sponsor, 52-year-old Elizabeth Pope, who was riding in the front of the bus as a passenger. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the cheerleader bus, Christina Garlock, 48, was in critical condition with multiple broken bones. Also injured were six teenaged females, all with the Iraan cheerleader squad.
DPS determined that the initial collision between Dunson’s Buick and the back of the 18-wheeler happened in the inside eastbound lane because of where the debris was found later. However, witness statements were inconsistent, and DPS published two theories of how the crash originated.
In scenario 1, Dunson, driving the Buick, was traveling eastbound at an unsafe speed and struck the semi from behind. In scenario 2, the semi driver made an unsafe lane change, cutting off Dunson’s Buick and she crashed into the rear of the semi.
The DPS report states that the semi’s steering became disabled, causing it to barrel out of control and into the oncoming lanes of traffic. DPS reported that they suspected Dunson was drunk at the scene but she was not arrested because of her injuries. She was rushed to the hospital instead.
The Peterbilt driver submitted a urine specimen and the results were obtained via subpoena. The specimen had negative results, DPS reported. The truck driver was cited for traveling at an unsafe speed.
In the original DPS report, the semi was identified as a Freightliner. In this final report, the truck tractor is identified as a 2015 Peterbilt.