The family of a 7-year-old boy killed in a crash on his way to his first day of school is suing the driver involved and the company that employed him.
On Aug. 8, Andrea Ariza-Rozo was driving her two sons to school when they crashed into another car on the U.S. 59 Eastex Freeway near the State Highway 242 overpass.
Juan Pablo, 7, died before he could even make it to his first day of second grade.
The lawsuit filed by Abraham and Watkins Law Firm claims the company’s driver failed to keep control of his vehicle, swerved to the right, and rode up onto the right guard with his vehicle, causing his vehicle to lift up into the air.
The lawsuit states, “The defendant’s vehicle then turned back to the left into the main lane of traffic and landed on top of the plaintiff’s vehicle, causing a violent and deadly collision.”
“I remember he was so excited to go to school that day,” Ariza-Roza said. “He was very smart. He had a bright future. He was very lovely, kind.”
The lawsuit names the other driver as Juan Napoles Jr. and states he was in a company truck, owned by Hussmann Corporation, a company that hauls refrigeration equipment.
“This guy is a ticking time bomb on the roadways with us, our friends, and our children,” Brant Stogner, firm partner and lead attorney, said.
According to the lawsuit, Napoles had been involved in eight car collisions since 2016, which is why Stogner said he should have never been hired to drive a commercial truck.
“Hussmann Corporation put a bad driver, with a terrible record, behind the wheel of a motor vehicle,” Stogner said.
Records show Hussmann has reported zero crashes or fatalities to the Texas Department of Transportation involving its cars in the last two years, despite this fatal crash happening just two months ago.
A crash-record report reveals the driver failed to drive in a single lane, left the roadway, struck a guard rail, and went in the other lane. However, Napoles has never been criminally charged.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, which is handling the investigation, evidence has not been handed over to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, which said DPS is still investigating.
The lawsuit, which includes negligence and wrongful death claims, seeks $100 million.
“This family’s loss is a tragedy that should have never happened,” Stogner said. “How does a company have someone driving for them with this type of known driving record? The driver and Hussmann are grossly negligent for this collision. This family is forever changed, and for such a young child to lose his life because of this is unforgivable.”
Reporters reached out to Hussmann Corporation but has not heard back. It is also unclear whether the driver still works for them.