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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Widow Files Claim in Veterans Day Tragedy

DALLAS (CN) - A widow blames Union Pacific Railroad and Smith Industries for the Veterans Day crash that killed four veterans and injured 16 this year as they headed to a parade in their honor.

Catherine Stouffer married her high school sweetheart, the late Gary Stouffer, and they had two children during Gary's 17 years in the Marines, she says in her complaint in Dallas County Court.

Gary Lee Stouffer Jr., a chief warrant officer 3, served in Bosnia, Kosovo and did two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He suffered traumatic brain injury and a fractured neck in spine from an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, but hoped to serve 3 more years in the Marines despite his injuries, to put 20 years in, his widow says.

Gary was invited to the Midland parade this year by a group called Show of Support. The group wanted to honor wounded veterans with the parade and then a hunting trip. Gary and other wounded vets were awarded Keys to the City that day.

But as the wounded vets sat on chairs on a flatbed trailer behind an 18-wheeler owned and operated by Smith Industries, a Union Pacific train smashed into them going 62 mph. Gary was killed and Catherine was injured. She claims "it was a grossly unsafe railroad crossing ... designed for a train traveling at 25 miles per hour, [though] Union Pacific authorized the train to travel up to 70 miles per hour."

She seeks damages for herself and her children, Shannon, 17, and Shane, 12, for wrongful death, past and future pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and medical and funeral expenses.

She is represented by Charla Aldous.

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