KDOT reverses course, saying it will no longer sue family involved in deadly I-435 crash for damages

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Transportation has reversed its decision to sue parents who lost two children in an I-435 crash two years ago.

The state filed a lawsuit Tuesday for the cost of repairing a highway barrier damaged in the wreck.

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

KDOT was seeking to recover $116,832 to fix the barrier on I-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.

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

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

The suit originally named Hernandez-Valentin and the father of her children, Salomon Vazquez.

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

But now KDOT has announced it will not be seeking damages from the family and will remove them from the case.

The agency said it’s not unusual for state and local governments to file claims to recover costs from traffic crashes.

In the lawsuit, KDOT contended 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.

Previous coverage:

Data pix.

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