hit and run

One of two Dallas hit-and-run victims released from hospital, search for 18-wheeler continues

One of two college roommates critically injured in a hit and run crash with an 18-wheeler in Dallas went home from the hospital today.

Kaylee Jensen looks physically healthy after the crash, but she faces months of rehab and recovery. Her friend, Cassandra Lizardi, remains hospitalized at Parkland Hospital.

Both families are grateful the two survived the collision but they are still hoping someone will come forward with information about the truck driver who put them in the hospital.

The families of 21 -year-olds, Cassondra Lizardi and Kaylee Jensen are thankful the young women are healing, but they are still hoping someone will come forward with information about the truck driver who put the two friends in the hospital.

“He did not know if these girls were dead or alive, he just kept going,” said Bryant Argon, Cassandra’s brother.

The UT Dallas roommates were on their way to dinner on Jan. 13 when they became victims of a multi-vehicle hit-and-run crash. Just before 7 p.m, the Dallas Sheriff Office says an 18-wheeler made a dangerous lane change on I-35, near the Dallas North Tollway exit.

Crash investigators say Lizardi’s vehicle went under the tractor-trailer, spun around and hit another vehicle, then bounced off a retaining wall and slammed into a third vehicle as the truck driver just kept going northbound on I-35.

“This is about what’s right and what’s wrong, somebody being held accountable for what they did,” said Chris Jensen, Kaylee’s father.

The 18-wheeler is described as having an orange cab and a white trailer.

Lizardi’s hips and collar bone were broken and will remain hospitalized several more weeks.

“That’s some nightmare stuff! To be hit and then hit two other cars and the wall and then just be left there? And then the driver to keep going?” Argon said.

Kaylee returned home Tuesday morning, where she is still recovering from a brain hemorrhage, broken vertebrae, and broken ribs.

“She’s just glad to get her own bed,” Jensen said. “Her dogs are happy to see her.”

The severe injuries forced both women to take the semester off so they can focus on a full recovery that includes months of rehabilitation.

“Their plan is to, by next fall, find another place to live together and start over,” Jensen said.

The frightening ordeal has made the two families about as close as the two college roommates.

“We’re all here for each other, we’re all supportive, we visited each other. You know, it’s a constant reminder that it’s good to keep family close and our family just got a little bit bigger,” Argon said.

Bland pleads ‘not guilty’ to leaving scene of fatal crash

RENSSELAER — A Terre Haute man accused of leaving the scene of a fatal crash in October pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Jasper County Circuit Court.

Joseph Bland, 43, is charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, a Level 5 felony. He had been identified by investigators as the operator of the white semi-tractor trailer that allegedly failed to stop at the intersection of U.S. 231 and State Road 16 on Oct. 10 that struck and killed Melissa Dano, 40, of Rensselaer.

Bland’s first appearance in court Tuesday included a noticeably-high police presence, including Rensselaer Police Chief Matt Anderson and Jasper County Sheriff-elect Pat Williamson. Anderson said this was because of the potential for someone to act out during the court proceedings since emotions could be running high. 

Jasper County Courthouse security escorted Bland back to his vehicle after his plea had been entered and his new court dates were set.

During the hearing, Circuit Court Judge John Potter asked Bland about his job status since the accident. Bland said he was on an undated leave, and he agreed with Potter that this meant he had essentially lost his job after the accident. Since Bland did not have a lawyer, Potter arranged for one to be appointed for him. 

The hearing was attended by members of Deno’s family, including her mother, Cindy Burks, of Wheatfield. Burks wore a jacket bearing the slogan “Justice for Missy” in reference to her daughter’s death, and said she had wished for a plea of guilty in light of the evidence in the case.

That said, she didn’t have anything to say for Jasper County Prosecutor Jacob Taulman, who will be handling the case after being sworn in this week.

“I don’t even know what I’d say,” Burks said. “I think it’s out of my hands.”

Bland is currently scheduled for an omnibus hearing on Jan. 22, followed by a pretrial conference Feb. 19 and a jury trial March 5 — all of which will begin at 9 a.m. 

The accident

On Oct. 10, Jasper County Dispatch was called about a traffic collision at the intersection of U.S. 231 and State Road 16, south of Rensselaer, saying a car had struck a tractor trailer, and that the tractor trailer had left the scene. 

When investigators arrived, they found the badly-damaged car and spoke to a witness, Jerry Akers, who claimed to have seen the entire accident unfold.

Akers had been traveling south on U.S. 231 and was preparing to make a turn onto State Road 16. The detective later accessed surveillance camera footage from the nearby Rose Acre Farms facility, which showed events consistent with Akers’ story. 

The footage reportedly depicts the tractor trailer traveling west on State Road 16, toward the intersection, where it begins to slow down but does not come to a complete stop. Instead, the tractor trailer accelerates through the intersection. 

Deno’s red passenger car is also visible in the footage, where it can be seen traveling north on U.S. 231 and striking the driver’s side of the trailer. The car passes underneath the trailer and comes to rest on the north side of the intersection, after also striking Akers’ vehicle.  

After the accident, Akers tried to flag down the tractor trailer. According to reports, Akers stated that the truck “appeared to slow to a stop” past the intersection after the car had passed under it, but then kept heading west. 

Jasper County investigators were later able to find the tractor trailer, and Bland was identified as the man driving it at the time of the collision. Investigators initially pursued a charge of reckless homicide against Bland, but was later changed to leaving the scene of a accident resulting in death. 

Bland surrendered to deputies at the Jasper County Detention Center shortly before 1 p.m. Dec. 8, then posted a $1,500 cash bond and was released. Though he must fulfill his obligations in court, he is not currently in police custody. 

The intersection of U.S. 231 and State Road 16 has since been converted from an intersection with flashing light signals to a four-way stop. Previously, the north-south portion of U.S. 231 was equipped with yellow flashing lights, and the east-west portion of State Road 16 with red flashing lights.

Trucker asks for help to identify car driver that caused a semi to jackknife before fleeing scene

Officers are asking the public for help in finding the owner of a sedan that caused a tractor trailer to jackknife and the significant damage.

The incident happened on northbound Interstate 295 Northbound around 10 A.M. in Baltimore, Maryland, on Friday, October 14th.

In a Facebook post, fellow truck drier Erika Wilson wrote the following description, asking for the public’s assistance:

Please share! With consent from the owner I am sharing this post and ask the public to share too in hopes that the person that caused this accident will come forward or if anyone knows anything to report the information to the Maryland Transportation Authority, Officer Kellam. Local: (410) 537-1000.

Approximately 10:00 AM yesterday morning on 295 North Bound at the 895 exit, Baltimore MD an individual driving a blue, 4 door (newer body style) sedan began to pass this tractor trailer at a high rate of speed in an attempt to make the 895 exit. The car made contact with the bumper/fender of the tractor causing the tractor driver to make every effort to avoid running over the vehicle.

The driver of the car stopped, got out of the car, looked at the damage and then got back in the car, sped off and fled the scene. There is damage to the right side of the car.

It’s a sad world we live in that as a human being we lack the compassion to help our fellow man in time of need. Own up to your mistake and remember that the last thought of the truck driver was to do everything in his power to prevent seriously injuring you.

If you have any information about the incident, or are able to identify the car driver involved, please contact Officer Kellam of the Maryland Transportation Authority at (410) 537-1000.

Four Vehicles Involved In Cantonment Hit And Run Crash

At least one person was injured in a four-vehicle accident Thursday afternoon on Highway 29 near Kingsfield Road.

The driver of a pickup rear-ended the an 18-wheeler with a flatbed trailer. That pickup was then reportedly struck by a by a pickup that was hauling another pickup. A unknown white GMC then hit the second pickup involved the crash. The GMC fled the scene.

One person was transported to an area hospital by Escambia County EMS.

The crash is under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol.

Valley, AL family of 19-year-old hit by 18-wheeler still seeking driver

COLUMBUS, GA  -A Valley, Alabama teen is fighting for his life at Piedmont Columbus Regional after being hit by two vehicles on Interstate 85.

One of those vehicles was an 18-wheeler. It happened on Halloween morning and one month later, that family says they’re still hoping the driver will come forward.

19-year-old Alonzo Heath Jr. is in the Intensive Care Unit at Piedmont Columbus Regional after 30 days of treatment. His mother says Halloween morning was the last time she heard her son speak to her.

“My phone rings and I answer it and he was saying my God my God mama, I’m upside down in my car,” says Alonzo Heath’s mother, Janeiria Heath.

She says it’s a day that changed her and her family’s lives. It was an early morning phone call from her son telling her that he had been hit by an 18-wheeler. While upside down, his car was then hit by an SUV.

“All I could see was blood and him, and I called his name and he didn’t respond to me. That’s when I was told that he was going to have be airlifted,” says his mother.

The accident happened when Alonzo Heath was returning home to Valley after taking his friend to work in Auburn. Alonzo Heath is currently in ICU with injuries to his spinal cord, a brain injury, collapsed lungs, and broken bones.

“Going in and out of the ICU room seeing my son from at the point of death to at the point of living and breathing, it’s been very emotional and hurtful,” explained Janeiria Heath.

“You do whatever you can do, but there’s nothing I can do but stand over my child and say if I could trade places with you, I would. But there’s nothing I could do but pray,” says Alonzo Heath’s father, Alonzo Heath, Sr.

He says they’re praying for the recovery of their son and for the driver of the 18-wheeler who hit their son’s car and kept going.

“I forgive him, but I just need to know and want to know who he is or who she is, and why they didn’t stop and give our son aid and call for help,” says Janeiria Heath.

“We want to prevent it from happening to another person, so we need to get him off the road and justice needs to be served,” says Alonzo Heath, Sr.

The family has even taken to social media to find the driver who is responsible. They’ve posted pictures of the crashed car. Valley police say anyone with information should call police.