In 2010, Gary Stouffer was on a resupply mission in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was riding in was hit by a blast from an improvised explosive device. The explosion left the 37-year-old Marine with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and anxiety disorders to go with the compression fractures in his neck and lower back.
His mission on November 15, 2012, a Veteran's Day parade in Midland, Texas, was supposed to be a much tamer affair. Instead, Stouffer was one of four veterans killed when their float was struck by a train.
Stouffer's widow, Catherine Stouffer, is now suing Union Pacific for its role in her husband's death. According to Courthouse News, Stouffer claims in a lawsuit filed yesterday in Dallas County District Court that the crossing where the parade float was hit was "grossly unsafe," and was "designed for a train traveling at 25 miles per hour, [though] Union Pacific authorized the train to travel up to 70 miles per hour."
The suit also names Smith Industries, which built the trailer on which Stouffer and the other veterans were riding. This is the second time a lawsuit has been filed against the two companies on behalf of float victims. Two weeks after the accident, Ricardo Sanchez and Todd King, who were among the injured, filed suit with their wives.
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Stouffer leaves behind a 17-year-old daughter, Shannon, and a 12-year-old son, Shane. The suit asks for damages for wrongful death, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and medical and legal expenses. The Morning News has a copy of the complaint.