Families of softball players killed in crash suing North Central Texas College, bus company

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Families of NCTC softball players killed in crash speak out

DALLAS, Texas – It was supposed to be a quick trip to Oklahoma for the women’s softball team from North Central Texas College.

In September of 2014, the North Central Texas College women’s softball team was returning to Texas after a scrimmage in Bethany against Southern Nazarene University.

After the scrimmage, the team boarded a bus and headed back to Texas. However, several members of the team never made it there.

Around 9 p.m., their bus was hit by a semi-truck.

Four NCTC softball team members killed in deadly bus crash
Four NCTC softball team members killed in deadly bus crash

The National Transportation Safety Board says the tractor-trailer did not follow the road and drove across the median and into the southbound lanes of I-35.

Officials say the semi-truck was traveling at about 72 miles per hour when it hit the left side of the bus, causing the bus to roll over.

The Department of Public Safety says 19-year-old Meagan Richardson, 18-year-old Katelynn Woodlee and 20-year-old Jaiden Pelton all died at the scene from massive injuries.

Good Samaritans tried to help the victims, but it was too late.

Jaiden Pelton, 20, Brooke Deckard, 20, Katelynn Woodlee, 18, and Megan Richardson, 19, were all killed in the crash.
Jaiden Pelton, 20, Brooke Deckard, 20, Katelynn Woodlee, 18, and Megan Richardson, 19, were all killed in the crash.

“There was a girl that was, she was in her seat, and the bus came on top of her, the bus fell on top of her head. And when I got into the bus, she had a pulse for about two or three minutes, and we were trying to use a jack to get the bus up,” a witness at the scene said. “Before we could get the bus jacked up enough to get her out, we lost the pulse.”

Authorities say 20-year-old Brooke Deckard was pronounced dead at the hospital from massive injuries.

Last week, officials learned that the driver of the semi-truck, 44-year-old Russell Staley, committed suicide.

Richard Staley
Richard Staley

Staley originally told investigators he was distracted at the time of the crash, but authorities later learned that drugs and drug paraphernalia were found in the vehicle.

After a nine-month investigation, Staley was charged with four counts of manslaughter in June 2015.

Now, the families of three of the victims are suing the company that made the bus their daughters were riding in when they died.

The families told KXII that they have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Champion Bus Company, the company that made the bus.

“You see what they were riding in. We would never have put our kids in something like this,” Misty Woodlee, the mother of Katelynn Woodlee, told KXII.

After the accident, she says she realized the bus was made of plywood, styrofoam and metal pieces that were not welded together.

“The best possible way that we can keep their memories alive and honor them is to protect other people and that is our focus from day one,” said Woodlee.

The families are also suing North Central Texas College because they say they did not enforce the seat belt rule.

They say any money won will be used to build a new softball stadium at North Central Texas College.

The college sent KFOR a statement, saying, “In light of current, on-going litigation, the college declines any further comment concerning the events relating to the tragic bus crash.”

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