Grandparents file wrongful death lawsuit against driver, trucking company

Fatal truck crash kills mother, four children

The paternal grandparents of a 10-year-old girl killed in a tractor-trailer crash in Kansas that also killed her mother and three siblings have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the trucking company and one of its drivers.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to raise money to pay for burial expenses for Jessica Noel and four of her children killed in a tractor-trailer crash in Kansas. Photo courtesy: GoFundMe

Mark and Carrie Brady of Mulvane, Kansas, filed suit in Sedgwick County District Court on Tuesday against L.B. White Trucking Inc. of Wellington, Kansas, and its truck driver, Andrew Specht, 31, of Argonia, Kansas.

Ronald L. White, president of L.B. White Trucking, did not return FreightWaves’ telephone call seeking comment about the lawsuit. His company has 15 power units and 16 drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration SAFER website. White’s company hauls grain and agricultural supplies.

Court documents claim the Ford Expedition driven by Jessica Noel, 32, collided with a grain truck driven by Specht at the intersection of 71st Street South and 263rd Street West, north of Viola, Kansas, on Sept. 25. Specht ran the stop sign “at high speed,” striking Noel’s SUV with such force that it snapped her vehicle in half, according to the court filing.

Noel, along with three of her children — Anaiah Brady, 10, Jeffrey Thompson III, 4, and Hank Thompson, 4 months — died at the scene, according to the lawsuit. Noel’s fourth child, Mack Thompson, 1, was transported to an area hospital, where he later died. 

Lawsuit filed days after fatal crash

In the lawsuit filed by the Bradys, they state their granddaughter, Anaiah Brady, has no surviving parents; her dad died when she was a toddler. 

The suit, which seeks more than $75,000 in damages, alleges that Specht and L.B. White Trucking were negligent because the driver failed to obey a traffic control signal, failed to yield the right-of-way and failed to keep a proper lookout. 

The filing claims Specht was driving “at excessive speeds” when he allegedly ran a stop sign at the intersection.

Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Benjamin Blick told FreightWaves the investigation into the fatal crash is ongoing.

Blick said Specht’s grain truck, which was headed east, should have stopped at the posted stop sign on 71st Street but didn’t. However, he said there is no stop sign on south 263rd Street where Noel was traveling with her children at the time of the crash. 

“The accident investigative team is looking at the report, and if they haven’t already, they will serve some search warrants on the vehicles just to gather some additional information,” Blick told FreightWaves. “If there’s any potential digital information that’s contained in the electronics, like the airbag modules of the vehicles, they will want to look at that. Then once they compile all of the information, then they will present it to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office. The DA’s office will then determine if any charges will be filed in the case.”

Attorney Blake A. Shuart of Hutton and Hutton Law Firm LLC of Wichita, Kansas, is representing the Bradys in their lawsuit, which seeks a jury trial.

Not the first lawsuit filed against L.B. White

In April 2012, L.B. White Trucking agreed to settle a lawsuit for $501,000 after one of its truck drivers, Allen Ernest Kessler, rear-ended motorist Eric J. Sallee in December 2010. At the time of the crash, Sallee was stopped at a red light on East 46th Street North in Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to court documents. The impact forced Sallee into the intersection, where he was hit by another motorist traveling northbound at the time. According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Kessler was transporting soybeans from Geuda Springs, Kansas, to the Tulsa Port of Catoosa at the time of the crash.

Read more articles by FreightWaves Senior Editor Clarissa Hawes

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