WINKLER COUNTY, Texas—Four people were killed in an automobile accident on State Highway 115 at 6:45 p.m. on September 1, 2022.
According to initial reports, Jose Luis Baeza was driving a Ford pickup truck southbound on State Highway 115 at an unsafe rate of speed for the wet road conditions. Ronald Wayne Stooksberry was traveling northbound in a Ford F-350 pickup truck when Baeza’s vehicle hydroplaned and struck Stooksberry’s truck head-on.
Stooksberry was traveling with passengers Emilio Reyes, Travais Millsap, Aviata Malufau, and James Bissing. Baeza’s passengers included Maribel Padilla, an unidentified 16-year-old, and an unidentified 7-month-old child.
Stooksberry and Padilla were pronounced dead at the scene. Reyes and Baeza were transported to separate hospitals, where each was pronounced dead upon arrival. All other surviving passengers were taken to nearby hospitals in serious condition.
Investigation into this accident is ongoing. No further details have been released at this time.
An independent investigation will be needed to help all those affected by this accident receive any justice they are owed under the law
It is incredibly saddening to learn of the death of four innocent people just before Labor Day weekend, and even more so to think of the trauma suffered by the unidentified minors involved. Even though this appears as a simple case of negligent driving, underlying factors, such as the durability of Baeza’s tires, may have contributed to the accident.
Reportedly, Baeza was driving too fast on wet roads, which caused his pickup to hydroplane, ultimately resulting in his death and the death of three others. Although he was traveling at an unsafe rate of speed for the road conditions, this crash may have been avoided altogether had Baeza’s tires been able to withstand the wet roads.
Tires are specifically rated to endure changing road conditions; the tread on tires is often associated with the tire’s ability to handle well on wet roads, as the channels in the tread disperse moisture across the tire and prevent hydroplaning. Perhaps Baeza’s tires were installed improperly or had a defect upon leaving the manufacturer, which caused one or more tires to be more susceptible to hydroplaning. Sometimes, tires can be installed backward, resulting in far less traction on wet and icy roads. This type of design defect or negligence on the part of whoever installed the tires could afford those involved with another avenue of legal recourse besides suing Baeza’s estate.
Thus, even if Baeza’s tires were not completely capable of withstanding the wet road conditions, his negligence cannot be ignored. Speeding on wet roads is very dangerous, and all drivers should be aware of the potential for fatal consequences if they ignore road conditions and speed limits when driving. Indeed, Baeza’s negligence is unacceptable, especially considering the fact he was transporting very young passengers. However, an independent investigation will likely be needed to determine whether Baeza’s negligence was the only contributing factor to this crash or whether the family of the decedents may have other avenues of legal recourse against a tire manufacturer or installer.
Our firm has successfully represented many victims, and their families after car crashes similar to this involving negligence and/or tire failures. We can assist in performing independent investigations into the condition of Baeza’s tires at the time of the crash, as well as obtaining any relevant maintenance records. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved in this horrific accident and their families.