Relatives of a woman injured early Sunday in a fiery crash on Interstate 30 filed suit Thursday against a trucking company and the driver of a truck involved in the collision.
Five people were killed and 12 people, including Elyssa Alba, were injured after a westbound Ryder truck plowed into a cluster of vehicles and people.
The suit says many other vehicles avoided the vehicles, which were parked on the right shoulder of the freeway.
The suit names Dustin Wayne Pool as the truck driver and Ryder Integrated Logistics Inc. as defendants.
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The crash occurred about 2:30 a.m., according to police. The driver of a BMW, identified Thursday by Fort Worth police as Claudia Barraza, 37, had struck a concrete barrier in the middle of the freeway near Oakland Boulevard. Other motorists pulled over to the right to try to help. Then the Ryder truck carrying newspapers came up over a hill and crashed into the crowd.
In addition to Barraza, Mary Hernandez, 42, Steve Franklin, 45 and Veronica Gonzalez, 43, all of Fort Worth; and Clarissa Banda-Castillo, 18, of San Antonio, were fatally injured.
“Our clients were on the improved shoulder where they should have been out of harm’s way,” said attorney Geoff Henley, who is representing Alba’s relatives.
“You have four lanes of traffic and several vehicles that were able to come to a complete stop and offer assistance to the driver of the BMW. A total of eight vehicles were hit by the tractor-trailer. That’s what I find the most troubling.”
Ryder officials declined to comment on the lawsuit.
“Ryder is deeply saddened by the injuries and loss of life resulting from the tragic multi-vehicle accident involving a Ryder vehicle and driver,” David Bruce, a Ryder spokesman, said in an email. “Our deepest sympathies go to those involved and their families. We are fully cooperating with officials investigating this accident. With respect to a recently filed lawsuit related to this matter, we will address those claims as part of the litigation process.”
Doctors expect Alba to be in John Peter Smith Hospital for another four weeks, Henley said.
“Ely is in horrific condition,” Henley wrote in a prepared statement. “She sustained massive head injuries, has already undergone a leg amputation and has fractures from her jaw down to her hip.” The suit lists other injuries.
There will also be weeks of recovery and therapy after she is released, he said.
The Star-Telegram has previously reported her last name as Alba-Gonzalez because that is the name family members gave in interviews. Alba was engaged to marry Veronica Gonzalez, killed in the crash, and was already using her last name, relatives said.
The suit was filed on behalf of her two children.
The suit says Pool was negligent for failing to control his speed, failing to turn to avoid the collision and failure keep a safe distance away from the vehicles that were struck. The suit says Ryder failed to properly train Pool.
“There were so many smashed up cars and injured people, it’ll take a while for judge and parties to get their hands around this,” Henley said. “We want to start discovery as soon as possible. It’s important to act with all deliberate speed before any of the evidence dissipates.”
A relative of Alba’s declined to comment on the suit Thursday. Attempts to contact Pool were unsuccessful.
The suit seeks more than $1 million in damages.
“Texas rules require plaintiffs to plea for a minimum of damages,” Henley said. “The injuries are catastrophic, so we will seek far more than the minimum based on the facts that come to light.”
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752