HISD coach, two students hurt in auto-ped accident

HOUSTON Typically, the Lanier Middle School cross-country team practices in the morning, but because it was school picture day, the running coach and several students opted to head on an afternoon run.

As the group of boys and girls were making their way back to school after their run to a nearby park, a car ran a red light.

"They had supervision, and they were waiting back until they thought it was safe, and the trouble is someone was coming along pretty fast," eyewitness Steven Ewing said.

A Ford Taurus ran a red light and right through the intersection. Running Coach Linda Suttles was hit so hard she shattered the windshield and landed on the roof, caving it in.

Two middle school students running with her were also injured. A boy was thrown several feet. A girl was run over with tire marks on her leg.

The 65-year-old man driving told police he never hit the brakes, as the sun was shining into his windshield.

"What he is telling us is, he just didn't see it," HPD Sgt. David Morgan said. "The next thing he knew, somebody is on his hood and he pulled over to the side."

Neighbors say this intersection at Alabama and Mandell is accident-prone. In the last 12 months, they've seen several accidents and feel overgrown trees surrounding the traffic lights need trimming.

"The trees are really in the way of the lights, so no one really notices it, and so there are a lot of accidents," said Kountherear Kuch, who lives near the intersection.

As for the eyewitnesses and those neighbors who rushed to help Coach Suttles and the two middle schoolers, it was a hard reminder of the damage a vehicle can do.

"It should be a lesson to all of us. We need to be careful about the way we drive," Ewing said.

The driver did give a voluntary blood sample. Besides a ticket for running a red light, right now the driver does not face any charges.

Coach Suttles was released from the hospital on Monday night. As for the two students, their conditions are are not being released.

Suttles also is the PE coach at Poe Elementary. She splits her time as both schools.

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