LAMESA, Texas – Public records reveal a pattern of traffic violations and car crashes connected to the driver involved in a fatal crash that killed four people, including a 10-year-old boy and 11-year old girl, near Lamesa on June 4.
The Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report obtained from the Department of Public Safety reports that 43-year-old Jose Manuel Lopez Valle attempted to make a U-turn in a 2001 Freightliner semi-truck on an unlit, two-lane highway just before 11:45 p.m. on June 4.
The truck became stuck in the muddy ditch just off of U.S. Highway 180, about 12 miles west of Lamesa. Valle’s trailer was blocking the westbound lane and his headlights were shining into oncoming traffic.
Shortly after his truck became disabled in the lane, 62-year-old Marie Dupre approached the truck in a silver Nissan Versa carrying 78-year-old passenger Connie Carroll and her 10 and 11-year-old grandchildren, Eden and Axyl Garza.
All four were killed when the sedan crashed into the back of Valle’s trailer, flew and flipped, laying to rest on its side up against the trailer, only their front right tire touching the ground. Valle was uninjured.
The family of the Garza children is now questioning Valle’s decision to attempt a U-turn.
“The road is kind of raised and I can see how you could fall and sink. But that goes back to integrity of doing something that you’re not supposed to do, or doing it right even when no one is watching,” cousin of the children’s mother Christina Galvan said. “That’s something that should have been done. There were so many roads out there that he could have backed into and then backed out. It was a rush… it could have been avoided.”
DPS investigators list the trailer being disabled in the traffic lane as a contributing factor in the crash.
Separate public records indicate Valle has been cited for at least ten traffic infractions since 2016:
- September 2021: operated or permitted to operate a vehicle with unsafe equipment
- January 2019: careless driving
- October 2018: failure to signal
- July 2018: careless driving
- May 2018: failure to stop at light
- March 2018: failure to stop at light
- March 2017: driving unsafe vehicle
- March 2017: no license plate
- March 2017: expired registration
- September 2016: speeding in municipal area or state road
Records also indicate Valle was involved in multiple crashes since 2016.
Officers listed an improper turn on behalf of Valle as the first contribute cause for a May 2016 collision in Alachua County. In a July 2018 collision in Dade County, the first cause was listed as Valle’s careless driving in a Ford Econoline.
A records search also revealed two additional collisions in February 2017 and January 2019 in which Valle was the driver.
The reports associated with each of these four collisions included a note stating “driver ability questionable.”
DPS lists the carrier associated with this crash as Monster Box Transport, a flac sand transportation company based in Odessa. Sandbox Transportation owns the black 2019 Pratt Trailer connected to the truck. The report also indicates Valle is insured by Trisura Specialty, also named as Threlkeld & Company.
There are no charges connected to this crash listed on the DPS report, but the family is considering legal action.
“[The mother] is going in the route to sue. She says, ‘I don’t really care about the money, I just don’t want anyone else to go through what I did,'” Galvan said. “If she does win, which I’m pretty sure she will because it was his mistake – a mistake that cost four lives, but it was his mistake – she wanted to set up a fund. Axyl wanted to be a doctor. Eden wanted to be a fashion designer. So she did want to set up a scholarship with that money in their honor.”
KAMC News has reached out to each of these companies to determine whether insurance or legal claims have been filed by any of the associated parties. As of Tuesday, we had not received a response.
The family is now calling for safety improvements to the road.
“I think having more lights out there is going to be more beneficial,” Galvan said. “Noticing where there are turns, having them light up, I know they have the stop signs that light up. Having light posts would really help. I travel that road every other holiday and I can’t drive it at nighttime. I refuse to, because it is so dangerous.”
A GoFundMe has been set up, you can find it here.