A prison van was involved in a serious crash in Montgomery County overnight, the day after Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials suspended inmate transports.
Video from the scene showed the aftermath of the crash that happened around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. Both the truck involved and the TDCJ van were extremely damaged.
Investigators said the driver of the red truck spun out on the northbound lanes of I-45, right as you’re approaching Willis, near FM-1097.
The truck came to a stop in the middle of the freeway, and that’s when the TDCJ van slammed into it, investigators said.
According to Conroe police, the driver of the truck is believed to be at fault and alcohol may have contributed to the crash.
Officials said there was one inmate inside the TDCJ van who sustained critical injuries from the crash. The inmate was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to police.
NOTE: A Conroe police officer at the scene initially said they believed the inmate was paralyzed from the neck down in the crash. However, the TDCJ would not confirm this detail and only said the inmate was in stable condition.
Police said there were also three guards in the van. They were all taken to a hospital in stable condition and are expected to be OK.
Two guards and the inmate were taken to HCA in Conroe, while the third guard was taken to Memorial Hermann in The Woodlands.
The driver of the red truck is expected to be OK and may be released from the hospital soon.
Another driver hit some of the debris from the crash but was not injured, according to police.
A spokesperson with the TDCJ told reporters the van was leaving a hospital in Galveston, and the inmate was being transported to the Skyview Unit in Rusk, Texas.
The spokesperson said additional security had been added to the van, and confirmed that three guards were on board at the time of the crash.
Texas prison officials suspended inmate transports Monday in the wake of convicted murderer Gonzalo Lopez’s own flight from the law after he managed to overpower guards on a transport bus.
The action comes as State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, who chairs the Texas Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee, pressed the Texas Department of Justice to suspend transports until safeguards are in place.
The TDCJ re-released its statement from Monday about transports, emphasizing the second sentence about medicinally-necessary transports and additional security measures.
“TDCJ has temporarily suspended the transport of inmates as the agency conducts a comprehensive review of its transportation procedures. If it becomes necessary to do a transport such as releasing or an emergency medical appointment, additional security measures will be implemented. The agency is conducting an internal Serious Incident Review and also intends to bring in an outside firm to conduct an independent review to identify factors that may have lead to the escape of Lopez.”