Man injured in DART paratransit collision sues for negligence

Jose Sepulveda

Credit: Josh Stephen / WFAA

Jose Sepulveda, who was injured on June 29 when a DART paratransit van crashed into his car, says his goal is to be able to pick up his kids and hug them again.

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by MATT GOODMAN

WFAA

Posted on September 4, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 5:00 PM

DALLAS – On June 29, Jose Sepulveda was waiting at the end of a line of cars to exit the Dallas North Tollway onto Interstate 35 when a DART-contracted paratransit van barreled into the back of his vehicle

In the wake of the violent, five-vehicle collision, Dallas Area Rapid Transit has already announced it won’t resign its contract with Veolia Transportation, the company that operates the paratransit vans. Willie Grant, the driver, was also fired by Veolia

Now, add a lawsuit to that fallout: Jose and his wife Pollieanna Sepulveda, have sued Grant and Veolia for negligence. 

Filed in the 14th district court on August 30, the lawsuit alleges Grant simply failed to stop as he sped toward the line of traffic, “crushing” Sepulveda’s vehicle before sending it barreling into three other cars. 

Dallas Fire Rescue had to use the Jaws of Life to tear into the vehicle to get to the trapped Sepulveda. He spent the next three weeks at Parkland Memorial Hospital, earning him the nickname the ‘miracle man.’

News 8 reporter Monika Diaz spoke with Sepuvleda on July 30, reporting the grisly aftermath of the wreckage:

When the father and husband woke up, he found his car's rear license plate by his elbow. The car was destroyed. The steering wheel impaled his chest and the back seat crushed his right shoulder and hip.

Firefighters pried open the car to pull him out.

"I remember when they were cutting the car, I was thinking, 'Is this it?' I was gasping for air. I thought my life was over," Sepulveda recalled.

The lawsuit says Grant didn’t keep a “proper lookout” and didn’t “maintain control of his vehicle” nor did he operate it at a “safe speed." It says he didn’t properly use his brakes and wasn’t paying attention to the line of traffic he drove into. 

The Sepulvedas are seeking damages for all medical expenses, loss of earnings, mental and physical anguish, any disfigurement and more, which is found on page five of the lawsuit

Veolia’s investigation into the wreck found no evidence that the driver violated the company’s cell phone usage policy nor was he under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. 

When he was let go, Veolia issued a statement saying he “had a good safety record in his more than 11 years of service until this accident,” but “safety must always be our highest priority.” 

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