According to attorneys representing Rich and Heather Sanchez, who were among 16 wounded veterans and their wives who were injured November 15 when a Union Pacific freight train going 62 mph plowed into a semi-trailer flatbed truck being used as a float during Midland, TX’s annual “Show of Support/Hunt for Heroes” parade, are among many of the victims and their survivors (four of the wounded warriors died when the train crossing gave less warning time than it was designed for) who remain adamant in their support of the city and the organization, and want no legal action taken against either party.
“One of the things Rich Sanchez told me is he felt it was his home town after a few days, and he was emotional about how wonderful the city of Midland has been to him,” said Bob Pottroff of Manhattan, KS, one of a team of two attorneys who filed suit last week on behalf of the Sanchez’s. “It’s been almost unanimous (among the victims of the tragedy) that nobody wants to see anything bad come to that organization or that cause,” adding that some of the victim’s he and Lubbock, TX attorney Kevin Glasheen are representing, have donated money to the “Show of Support/Hunt for Heroes” organization to show their support of what the group does and want their efforts to continue.
In the suit filed this past Wednesday, Pottroff said that Union Pacific’s train and crew (who continue to remain unidentified more than two weeks after the accident) failed to give proper warning as the train approached the Garfield Street crossing, which the suit claims is unsafe itself. The suit’s charges against Smith Industries include that the driver failed to keep a proper lookout and knowingly put his passengers at risk.
The timing of the filing was to ensure that evidence contained on the “black boxes” of both the train and the semi-trailer truck’s tractor would be preserved and not compromised. “It’s test results, the black box off of the truck, black box off of the train, all of the types of evidence the NTSB collected we need,” said Pottroff. He added that the railroad would undoubtedly blame the trucking company and it was necessary to “investigate all of the evidence, and the two owners of all the evidence are Smith Industries and the Union Pacific Railroad,” he explained.
Pottroff expects more victims will join the lawsuit as plaintiffs once they recover from their physical and emotional wounds and complete their recovery process.