For four days last October, the Magnablend chemical plant along Highway 237 in Waxahachie burned. A flammable gas cloud had formed during the blending process and had been ignited by a spark of unknown origin. As the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality determined, "It appears that the incident could have been avoided with better maintenance or engineering practices."
As smoke poured from the fire on October 3, prompting officials to shut down the downwind portion of Highway 237, Delbert Wiser was driving his 2005 Yamaha motorcycle toward the scene of the fire, his wife Dana on the back. A crowd was gathered to gawk and take pictures and, as the motorcycle drew near, the car in front suddenly stopped. As Wiser tried to avoid a collision, he and his wife were thrown from the motorcycle.
Neither was wearing a helmet. Delbert was taken to Parkland via ambulance with three broken ribs and a fractured clavicle. Dana was airlifted there, but she had an inoperable massive subdural hematoma and died three days later.
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Delbert and his family filed a lawsuit Monday against Magnablend, blaming the company for Dina's death and seeking $8.6 million in damages. According to the suit, which you can read below, the company was grossly negligent in failing to take legally required steps to prevent the fire, which created a public nuisance and hazardous traffic conditions, which caused Dina's death.
I've left a message with Magnablend spokeswoman Jamie Castro. I'll update when I get a response.
Update on Aug. 10: Melissa Chapman, who does PR for Magnablend, said the company has not yet received a copy of the lawsuit. She said the company doesn't comment on pending litigation.