Parents of Texas girl killed in school van crash settle lawsuit

Journey Magness. (Trinity County Sheriff's Office Facebook photo)
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TRINITY, Texas (AP) A couple who alleged an East Texas school district's failure to modify a school van to meet federal safety standards lead to the death of their 7-year-old daughter has settled a lawsuit with the district.

Kim Magness, the mother of Journey Magness, said Thursday that a settlement was reached this month with the Trinity Independent School District over the December 2016 death of her daughter.

Magness says the van, used to transport special-needs children, was stopped to pick up a student when it was rear-ended by a pickup.

She says the van, which was purchased a year earlier by the district, had not modified to meet safety standards, including reinforced, high seat backs.

She says Journey suffered a broken neck.

Terms of the settlement are confidential.

Trinity school Superintendent John Kaufman didn't respond Friday to a message seeking comment.

The accident happened just before 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 1, 2016 on FM 1893 about five miles west of Trinity.

The eastbound 2005 Trinity ISD van in which eight children were riding was stopped to pick up a student when 2008 Ford pickup in which four people were riding struck it.

The girl, who was in the school van, was seriously injured and was taken by ambulance to East Texas Medical Center in Trinity where she was pronounced dead.

Five other children were taken by ambulance to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Three other passengers and the van’s driver, Chandra Wheeler, 55, of Trinity were taken to the hospital in a private vehicle as a precaution.

Authorities in Trinity County said they think the 17-year-old driver of the pickup truck was temporarily blinded by the sun as the truck crested a hill before crashing into the van.