The family of a Houston man who was killed by flying debris
when tires on a semi exploded could have to file civil action against the
driver of the truck because police say criminal charges may not be filed.
Juan Tenorio, 57, was on the front porch of his home at 8
a.m. Jan. 18 when an 18-wheeler loaded with furniture got stuck in a ditch in
his residential neighborhood just outside downtown Houston. The driver of the
Gainey Transportation Services rig – identified by the Houston Chronicle as 26-year-old Marcus Duncan of Dallas – told Houston police he was gunning the
engine, trying to get the truck back on the road surface, when four tires on
the tractor exploded.
Pieces of the tires sprayed out, some flying several blocks.
One smashed through the window of a condo two blocks away and damaged a wall. Another
piece ripped metal from a nearby utility pole, knocking the pole into a tree.
At least one piece hit Tenorio. He was taken to a hospital in critical
condition, but he died later.
Sgt. Rose Terry of the Houston Police Department said this
week that the investigation is ongoing.
However, the officer from the department’s Truck Enforcement
Unit who was at the scene of the wreck is somewhat doubtful that criminal
charges will be filed – even though the tractor was not on a truck route and a
Level 1 inspection at the scene revealed several violations, including an
unauthorized passenger who police believe to be a prostitute.
“I’m still upset about the situation,” Sgt. C.J. Klausner
told Land Line. “This gives a black eye to a very honorable profession that
has a lot of honorable men and women working in it … who knows what kind of
distraction was going on in that cab.”
Klausner said that there was no reason for the truck to be
in the residential neighborhood, which has narrow blacktop streets without curbs
or gutters. Klausner also said that based on his inspection, the truck should
have never left Dallas and headed to Houston with its load of furniture. It had
multiple violations that should have kept it off the road.
Despite those facts, Klausner said he doesn’t know if
investigators will be able to provide enough evidence to file any criminal
charges in the case.
“It will be tough on the criminal side,” he said. “But on
the civil side – they should just open up their check book.”
That checkbook would belong to Gainey Transportation
Services, which is based in Michigan.
Gainey’s vice president for safety and driver personnel, Tim
Kelly, said he was aware of the incident, but he declined to comment on it. He
would not confirm for Land Line that Duncan was driving the Gainey truck
that was involved in the incident.
“I’m not going to comment on that situation at all,” Kelly
said Feb. 1.
According to reports from the scene, the Gainey driver had
just graduated from driving school six months ago. Klausen said the driver told
him at the scene that he had become lost on the way to the store he was
supposed to deliver the furniture to. He said he stopped for directions, which
led him to the victim’s neighborhood of small, one-story wood-frame houses.
The driver reportedly arrived in Houston at about 3:30 a.m.
His activities between his arrival in the city and the tire explosion were not
by Coral Beach