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Shapiro & Appleton

10 Dead As TX Prison Bus Hits Train

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At least 10 people died yesterday near Odessa, TX when a state prison bus slid off an icy highway overpass, slid down an embankment and slammed into a passing train.

Emergency crews from Penwell TX stated that the bus came to a rest on its side. It was smashed with heavy damage on the top and bottom. The bus reportedly was carrying 12 inmates and three prison officers and was going to El Paso.

The prison spokesperson stated that those killed were eight prisoners and two prison officers. Four injured are in critical condition and one is in serious condition.

The sheriff of Ector County told the media that that overpass on I-20 was icy that morning, after a heavy rain and ice storm passed through the night before.

The Union Pacific train was carrying cargo, not passengers, and came to a stop a few minutes after the wreck.

Prison officials compared Wednesday’s tragedy to another Texas accident in 2012, when a Veteran’s Day parade float was hit by a passing train at 60 MPH. That wreck killed three North Carolina veterans.

As we have seen in our personal injury work in Virginia, ice/snow and large vehicles, including tractor trailers and buses, do not mix. Large vehicles such as big rigs and buses take a long time to stop. Sometimes they take as much as the length of a football field to stop. Trucks and buses also have a high center of gravity, so if they slide on ice, it is easy for them to quickly get out of control. 

We always advise truck and bus drivers to avoid driving in icy conditions as much as possible. And car drivers should give those large vehicles a wide berth in poor weather conditions.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who died in this tragedy.

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