Yesterday, there was a terrible accident out west of Odessa. A prison bus with 12 inmates and 3 correctional officers went off an overpass and fell onto train tracks. It was then hit by a train. Of the 15 people in the bus, 10 are dead and 4 are in critical condition in the hospital. 8 of the 10 dead are inmates, 2 are correctional officers.
The details of the wreck are still being investigated and much is not known, but I pray that the time from when the bus went over to when the train collided with it was very brief. I hope very much that those who died did so mostly on impact. I hope that the injured can survive and will be mostly alright.
This story is horrific to me, as someone who has ridden in a prison transport bus, because I can only imagine the terror of being on that bus. When you ride in a prison bus you are shackled to your seat mate, for safety reasons of course, but in the case of a wreck like this, it seems your chances would be greatly diminished. You also do not get a seatbelt. In a wreck you could not brace yourself easily, or manage to get out if you are still physically able to either, being shackled to the person next to you. The story horrifies me because I have had a friend in the Middleton Unit, where the bus left from. It’s a low to medium security unit as well as a transfer unit. Most of the inmates there are low level drug offenders, DWI cases, and some sex offenders as well. Most are on the younger side.
I cannot imagine being the family member or loved one of anyone who is currently incarcerated in Middleton, because what all of us who have been in prison or know someone in prison have learned, news from prison travels slowly, and callously. It is entirely likely that multiple parents and spouses and children are sleepless and scared right now, waiting to hear if their inmate was one of those on board that bus. When a person is transported from one prison unit to another in TDC, there is sometimes no warning at all. Or an inmate will know they are going to be moved, but not know where, or when. They might write to their family and let them know, and then it’s a waiting game. The family will one day just learn that their inmate has been transferred.
So, for those families and friends of anyone who was at Middleton, right now must be excruciating. Typically calling around to hospitals will not help because when you are an inmate needing hospital care, a hospital will not divulge to anyone calling if you are even AT the hospital let alone your condition. It’s not allowed. Calling the prison itself will no doubt lead to nothing but frustration. It truly blows my mind to think of you all right now, and I pray for you.
There are tools online to find an inmate in prison, including the inmate locator tool found on the home page of this site. Also many folks use services like JPay that allows a person to send funds and correspondence to inmates via their site. Using these tools, a person might see that their inmate is now no longer listed at Middleton, but that they also are not showing at any other unit yet. This doesn’t mean that they were ON that bus. They could very well be still in transfer and not registered at any unit at the moment. They could be in their new unit but still not showing up in the official system. Oddly, often JPay will find record of where an inmate is faster than TDC’s own inmate locator tool will.
At any rate, for any family or friends of a person at Middleton who is fearing the worse, I pray for you and your inmate’s safety. If you are one of those who are scared and freaking out right now, desperately looking for news, I send you peaceful, calming thoughts and prayers and urge you not to assume the worse until it is confirmed. Your inmate in all probability is just fine, don’t despair. And, for those who did lose a loved one in this terrible crash, whether it be inmate or correctional officer, I offer my deepest condolences and my prayers for your peace and healing.
An article with more about this incident is available here at CBS’s website.
Peace to all of us today, and every day. Peace.
**UPDATE** I just found this link that lists those killed in the wreck as well as those injured in the hospital. Rest in peace, all of you souls. Prayers for you.
Here are the casualties and injured list:
Correctional Officer 5 Christopher Davis is deceased. The 53-year-old had 205 months of service with the agency.
Correctional Officer 5 Eligio Garcia is deceased. The 45-year-old had 275 months of service with the agency.
Correctional Officer 5 Jason Self has been transferred to University Medical Center in Lubbock. He is in critical condition. The 38-year-old has 222 months of service with the agency.
34-year-old offender Bryon Wilson is deceased.
29-year-old offender Tyler Townsend is deceased.
44-year-old offender Jesus Reyna is deceased.
22-year-old offender Kaleb Wise is deceased.
32-year-old offender Adolfo Ruiz is deceased.
25-year-old offender Michael Stewart is deceased.
31-year-old offender Angel Vasquez is deceased.
35-year-old offender Jeremiah Rodriguez is deceased.
22-year-old offender Terry Johnson is at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. He is in critical condition.
34-year-old offender Remigio Pineda is at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. He is in serious condition.
22-year-old offender Damien Rodriguez is Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. He is in critical condition.
37-year-old Hector Rivera is Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. He is in serious condition.