2 years after deadly I-435 crash, Kansas suing victims, others for damages

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Two years after a crash left two sisters dead and three family members injured, the state of Kansas is suing the children’s parents and other parties for the cost of repairing a highway barrier damaged in the wreck.

The state filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to recover $116,832 to fix the barrier on Interstate 435 that was damaged Feb. 18, 2018, when a truck slammed into a minivan driven by Angelica Hernandez-Valentin.

Her 1- and 7-year-old daughters died in the crash and she and two of her sons were seriously injured, according to court records.

The lawsuit was filed exactly two years after the little girls' deaths.

(L)Teresa Vasquez, 1, and (R) Ruth S. Vasquez, 7 both died in the crash Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018.

The lawsuit names Hernandez-Valentin and the father of her children, Salomon Vazquez.

It also names the truck driver, William Spring, of Corning, Iowa, and the owners of the truck and trailer, Brown Truck Leasing Corp. and Greenfield Logistics Inc.

The Kansas Highway Patrol said the crash occurred when the minivan slowed or stopped for an unknown reason and Spring was unable to stop in time. He hit the minivan, then crashed through a concrete barrier along the shoulder.

It is not unusual for state and local governments to file claims to recover costs from traffic crashes.

The Kansas Department of Transportation contends Hernandez-Valentin did not have a valid driver’s license and was negligent for not moving off the interstate when her minivan failed to reach “a reasonable speed.”

The department alleges Spring was negligent for “driving too fast for conditions on the roadway” and following too closely.

The lawsuit comes as the children’s parents are about to finalize a settlement of their wrongful death claim against Spring and the owners of the tractor-trailer.

The settlement was reached this month but terms were not disclosed in court documents filed in Jackson County. A hearing to finalize the agreement is scheduled for March 12.

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