Crash Victim Sues Texas Pacifico for Overgrown Vegetation
A 23-year-old woman who crashed her truck into a Texas Pacifico train last year in Miles and sustained severe and disfiguring injuries has filed a lawsuit against the railroad and its engineer for failing to cut down the vegetation at the crossing.
The plaintiff, Kathryn McLain-Murray, was traveling southbound on FM 1692 on April 18, 2014, when her Chevy pickup collided with the lead engine of a westbound train. The vehicle then spun more than 360 degrees before coming to a rest just off the west side of the highway. The four-engine train came to a stop some 1,122 feet from the point of impact.
An investigation into the crash conducted by TxDPS Trooper Alan Dykstra concluded that Murray had failed to yield right of way to the oncoming train and proceeded into the crossing, where she hit the 75-80 car train. She was not wearing a seatbelt.
Murray’s lawyers, however, argue that Texas Pacifico “failed to use ordinary care to timely and reasonably warn of the train’s approach by failing to provide an adequate visual warning”.
One of the issues centered on the high and thick vegetation at the crash scene, which is said to have caused Murray to have impaired “sight triangles” which prohibited her from being able to see the approaching locomotive and have time to react. The Texas Administration Code mandates that a railroad maintain vegetation 250 feet in each direction of a public crossing.
A second issue was named in the warning devices at the crossing, which Murray’s attorney Max Parker alleges is non-compliant and inadequate.
The crossing at the site of the crash is at-grade and is protected by crossbucks, yield signs, advance warning signs and pavement markings, the document states. No crossing arms or electric signing was in place.
In addition to the railroad company, Murray is also suing locomotive engineer Jeffrey Don Sliger for “failing to keep a proper lookout for vehicles approaching this crossing; failing to timely apply the locomotive brakes; and failing to properly, adequately and/or timely apply the train horn in order to give sufficient audible warnings of the train’s approach to this crossing.”
Murray, 22 at the time of the crash, had to be air-lifted from the scene of the crash to Shannon Medical Center, and ended up being hospitalized for 42 days, including seven days in ICU, court documents state. Murray sustained injuries all over her body, including to her head, back, neck, internal organs and legs, and had to undergo eight surgeries.
Due to the high expense of the medical bills accrued to date as well as future medical needs, Murray is suing the railroad and Sliger for $1 million. Her original petition to the court also cites negligence on behalf of the parties causing her past and future physical pain, mental anguish, lost earnings, physical impairment and disfigurement as reasons for the lawsuit.
Texas Pacifico and Jeffrey Sliger are being represented by the San Angelo branch of the law firm Jackson Walker, L.L.P., who responded to the lawsuit on Feb. 13 on behalf of the defendants with a general denial of all allegations and a demand for proof.
The lawsuit was filed on Jan. 23. As of yet, no hearings have been scheduled in the case.
Attorney Jon Mark Hogg is representing Texas Pacifico and Sliger in the case.
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