A Texas drilling company will pay $16 million to the family of a woman who was killed when equipment fell off its tractor trailer and onto the victim’s SUV.
Pioneer Drilling Co. of San Antonio, TX, agreed to the settlement after three days of trial in a Texas court.
On Sept. 11, 2008, Rhonda Henson was driving her Ford Explorer with her husband in the passenger seat. A large piece of oil field equipment fell off a passing tractor trailer, crushing the driver’s side of the SUV.
According to the Times-Review, jurors heard a 911 call in which an eyewitness tells an emergency center operator that she yelled to see if anyone was in the SUV. Thomas Henson, who was out of the truck, told the eyewitness his wife was dead in the vehicle.
The equipment, weighing more than 15 tons, was secured with two chains, not four as required by law.
A local police department report also said the driver, 21-year-old Daniel Armstrong, failed to control his speed.
The attorney for Henson’s family said sworn testimony showed at least one Pioneer employee was aware that Armstrong had several traffic tickets, a suspended license and wasn’t qualified to drive the tractor trailer.
The attorney said other company employees forged, backdated and fabricated Armstrong’s records after the accident. A company employee eventually came forward with that claim.
A statement from Pioneer said all but $1 million of the $16 million settlement will be covered by insurance.