Crash kills two inmates

June 28, 2008 5:29:00 PM PDT
The driver of a private security van ferrying prison inmates through southern Arkansas fell asleep behind the wheel, causing a crash that killed two prisoners and injured four others, authorities said. Gregory O. Reed, 43, of Texas was driving a van for U.S. Extradition Service Inc. when he dozed off early Friday, the Arkansas State Police said.

Cpl. Jeff Hust told the El Dorado News-Times that prisoners began screaming, "Boss! Boss!" and that another guard grabbed the wheel but overcorrected. The van struck a culvert and went airborne, rolling twice before stopping.

Shawn Talbot, 29, of Ladysmith, Wis., and Walter Ridley, 47, of Clarendon died at the scene.

Seven inmates and two guards were in the van, which was on its way to Little Rock. Both guards were wearing seat belts, while the inmates were unsecured in the back of the van.

Authorities are investigating the crash.

U.S. Extradition Service, based in Austin, Texas, transports prisoners and inmates under contract with law enforcement agencies. Bill Brees, a spokesman for the company, declined to comment.

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