Inmate, 3 guards hurt in prison van crash with suspected drunk driver in Montgomery Co., police say

Charly Edsitty Image
Tuesday, June 7, 2022
Inmate, 3 guards hurt in crash with suspected drunk driver, police say
Officials suspended prison transports on Monday, but said the overnight transport from a Galveston hospital was for medical reasons and involved additional security.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- A prison van was involved in a serious crash in Montgomery County overnight, the day after Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials suspended inmate transports.

Video from the scene showed the aftermath of the crash that happened around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. Both the truck involved and the TDCJ van were extremely damaged.

Investigators said the driver of the red truck spun out on the northbound lanes of I-45, approaching Willis near FM-1097.

The truck came to a stop in the middle of the freeway, and that's when the TDCJ van slammed into it, investigators said.

According to Conroe police, the driver of the truck is believed to be at fault and alcohol may have contributed to the crash.

Officials said there was one inmate inside the TDCJ van during the crash. The inmate was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to police.

NOTE: A Conroe police officer at the scene initially said they believed the inmate was paralyzed from the neck down in the crash. However, the TDCJ would not confirm this detail and only said the inmate was in stable condition.

Police said there were also two correctional officers and one sergeant inside the van.

The inmate and one officer are in stable condition at Memorial Hermann in the Woodlands, police said. The other officer and the sergeant are at HCA in Conroe and are expected to be OK.

SEE ALSO: 'Back to the drawing board': TX escapee's fingerprints found at home near killed family, sources say

The five people found dead at their family's cabin include three brothers - 11, 16, and 18; their 11-year-old cousin; and their 66-year-old grandfather.

The driver of the red truck is also expected to be OK.

Another driver hit some of the debris from the crash but was not injured, according to police.

A spokesperson with the TDCJ told ABC13 the van was leaving a hospital in Galveston, and the inmate was being transported to the Skyview Unit in Rusk, Texas.

The spokesperson said additional security had been added to the van, and confirmed that three guards were on board at the time of the crash.

READ MORE: Texas prison officials suspend inmate transports as Gonzalo Lopez's escape under review

A state lawmaker is pushing for change when it comes to transporting high-risk inmates after officials say an escaped inmate killed a grandfather and four of his grandsons.

Texas prison officials suspended inmate transports Monday in the wake of convicted murderer Gonzalo Lopez's own flight from the law after he managed to overpower guards on a transport bus.

The action comes as State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, who chairs the Texas Senate's Criminal Justice Committee, pressed the Texas Department of Justice to suspend transports until safeguards are in place.

The TDCJ re-released its statement from Monday about transports, emphasizing the second sentence about medicinally-necessary transports and additional security measures.

"TDCJ has temporarily suspended the transport of inmates as the agency conducts a comprehensive review of its transportation procedures. If it becomes necessary to do a transport such as releasing or an emergency medical appointment, additional security measures will be implemented. The agency is conducting an internal Serious Incident Review and also intends to bring in an outside firm to conduct an independent review to identify factors that may have lead to the escape of Lopez."

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