Last summer Willie Grant drove his DART paratransit van straight into Jose Sepulveda’s stopped vehicle on the Dallas North Tollway – causing a 5-vehicle collision and putting Sepulveda in critical condition. DART driver Grant did not even attempt to stop as his speeding vehicle sailed into Sepulveda’s car. Video of the incident shocked viewers. What was distracting him? Grant passed his drug and alcohol tests and was not using a phone. It is as if he simply zoned out. A moment of his inattention placed Sepulveda in Parkland Memorial Hospital for critical three weeks. He underwent countless procedures and was rechristened the “Miracle Man” by Parkland employees who were awed by his rate of recovery.
Now, months later the story isn’t over yet. Grant has been fired and DART has decided not to resign its contract with Veolia Transportation (the company that employed Grant and hires other drivers.) The next chapter is a double-lawsuit on behalf of Jose Sepulveda and his wife Pollieanna against Veolia Transportation and individual driver Grant. The lawsuit is being handled by Dallas attorney Robert Crain.
What’s the meat of the lawsuit? That’s right, you guessed it, Grant’s negligent driving. More specifically, Grant’s failures to “keep a proper lookout,” “maintain control of his vehicle” and to drive at a “safe speed.” In plainer terms, he wasn’t looking where he was going, he lost total control and he was speeding.
It’s true that Grant had a good safety record over his more than eleven year career until this one incident. However, eleven years of good behavior does not diminish the severity of Sepulveda’s injuries. If you’ve been reading the interviews with Sepulveda, his family or his caregivers you remember just how lucky he is to be alive. The fire department’s “Jaws of Life” device was used to tear into Sepulveda’s Nissan to free his trapped body. He told reporters earlier that he remembers waking up and seeing his rear license plate by his elbow. He also remembers the moment before the impact when he saw the van speeding towards him – he told WFAA, “I remember I held on to the steering wheel and I just closed my eyes.”
Now Sepulveda is on his way to recovery, and the his family will have their day in court. Lawsuits like this one can go on for months, particularly if they head into litigation. Just because you may not hear as much about the case in the media, doesn’t mean it’s over. For the Sepulvedas the process has just begun.