Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, April 11, 2002
Two Marshal's Service inmates die in van crash
By JON FULBRIGHT
PECOS, Thurs., April 11, 2002 -- Two U.S. Marshal's Service inmates were
killed and 11 others injured Wednesday when the van they were passengers
in crashed while traveling from El Paso to Odessa on Interstate 10
in Jeff Davis County.
The two inmates killed in the accident were identified as Francisco Letkemon-Wiebe,
48, and Jose Rubio, 25. The 11 other inmates and the driver of the van were
also hurt and were transported by ambulance to hospitals in Pecos and Van
The U.S. Marshal's Service did not immediately release the names of the
other 11 injured inmates. A spokesperson for the Marshal's Service office
in El Paso said a list of names of the other inmates would be released sometime
Letkemon-Wiebe and Rubio were pronounced dead at the scene by Jeff Davis
County Justice of the Peace George Grubb and their bodies were taken to Geeslin
Funeral Home in Alpine.
Three inmates transported to Culberson County Hospital in Van Horn were
later taken to R.E. Thomason General Hospital in El Paso, though after initial
reports that at least one of the inmates was listed in extremely critical
condition, the seriousness of the other injuries were downgraded this morning,
according to a spokesperson for CiviGenics of Texas, the operator of the
"All of the injured are expected to be released today," said Jim Shaw,
South Regional Director for CiviGenics, speaking from the company's offices
in Waco. "One of them had three broken ribs and I believe one other had a
"One had a scalp injury, which was the most serious of the ones in El
Paso," he said. Shaw added that his office also had received initial reports
that the inmate with the scalp injury was in "extremely critical" condition.
"When they took him out of there, they didn't know if he had any internal
head injuries when his head was cut," he said. The inmate with the scalp
laceration was also unconscious when he was taken first to Van Horn and then
by ambulance with the two other inmates to Thomason General Hospital.
Two of the eight inmates taken to Reeves County Hospital were later airlifted
to other hospitals for treatment of their injuries, according to Nancy Ontiveros,
Director of Program Development/Community Services for Reeves County Hospital.
Ontiveros said one inmate was flown to Midland Memorial Hospital and a
second to Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock. Shaw said he believed the inmate
flown to Lubbock was the one who had suffered the three broken ribs in the
This six other inmates and the driver of the van, Dwayne Taylor, were
treated for minor injuries at Reeves County Hospital, while another guard
in the van who remained at the site after the accident, Mike Contreras, was
later taken by law enforcement officers to the hospital to be checked out.
The six inmates and Contreras were treated and released, while Ontiveros
said Taylor was transported to Medical Center Hospital in Odessa. However,
neither MCH nor Midland Memorial Hospital said they had any record of Taylor
being treated Wednesday night.
Taylor and Contreras had left Odessa about 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday on a
560-mile round trip to transport inmates from El Paso to Odessa. The two
were making the trip along with two other guards in a second van, and left
El Paso at about 12 noon CDT, headed back to the Ector County Correctional
Center in Odessa, which is also operated by CiviGenics.
They had driven about 165 miles of the 280-mile trip between El Paso and
Odessa when the accident occurred.
According to Sgt. Luis Najera of the Department of Public Safety office
in Van Horn, the van was eastbound on I-10 at the 183 mile marker when the
accident occurred, in the Springhills area of northern Jeff Davis County,
45 miles west of Pecos.
"Apparently the driver was fatigued and in a state of mental inactivity
when he drifted off the side of the roadway and lost control of the vehicle,"
Najera said. The van struck a bridge abutment and rolled off the right side
of the road and down a 10-foot embankment, before coming to rest facing west
on the seldom-used north service road of I-10.
Najera said the inmates were not wearing seat belts when the accident
occurred, and some were ejected from the van. "The two deceased were ejected.
We know that for sure, and a third person also was ejected," he said.
Although Najera said driver fatigue was suspected in the accident, Contreras,
who remained behind at the crash site after the others were transported to
Van Horn and Pecos, said that one of the guards in the second van also told
him a blowout occurred.
"The officer behind us said we had a blowout of our front tire," said
Taylor and Contreras were in the front seat of the Ford van, while the
13 inmates were in four rows of seats behind a metal grill in the rear of
the vehicle. The other inmates in the second van were not hurt when the accident
occurred, and were transported to the Pecos Municipal Law Enforcement Center
before being taken to Odessa.
Shaw said under normal procedures, Contreras would have driven the van
from Odessa to El Paso, while Taylor would then have driven the van back
to Odessa. Shaw also disputed the initial DPS report that fatigue was a factor.
"It's unusual for DPS to make that assessment without an investigation,"
said Shaw. "He (Taylor) was off for two days prior and had a total output
time of 10 hours, so that (fatigue) was not the case. If you look at the
man's time he was nowhere near overworked."
Damage was visible to the front driver's side tire at the accident site,
though Shaw said because the van struck the overpass abutment and guardrail
and rolled down the embankment, it would be hard to tell right away if a
blowout did occur.
I did a check and the last total vehicle maintenance was on Feb. 28,"
Shaw said. "It was a 2001 Ford van, so it was a relatively new van that was
in good shape."
Shaw added that "It's my understanding the officers do a physical view
check of the vehicle," before making their trips.
GiviGenics is based in Massachusetts. According to the company's Website,
federal prisoners are detained at the Ector County facility under contract
with the U.S. marshal's office for the Western District. The contract is
similar to the one the Town of Pecos City has entered into with the U.S.
Marshal's Service for housing inmates at the new Pecos Municipal Criminal
Prisoners for the Pecos Municipal Criminal Justice Center are transported
by bus by the U.S. Marshals Service.
"Right now, the U.S. Marshals Service brings us the inmates, they do all
the transporting themselves and use their own agents," said Town of Pecos
City Police Chief Clay McKinney.
McKinney said that plans are underway to assist the U.S. Marshals in transporting
the inmates, but it will be awhile before that occurs.
"We have ordered a van to assist the U.S. Marshals, but it has to meet
certain specs," said McKinney.
He added that the U.S. Marshals Service decides which inmates will be
transported to the Pecos facility. "We really don't know where they will
be coming from," he said.
"The U.S. Marshals Service calls us up and lets us know how many inmates
need to be transported to Pecos and they do the transporting," McKinney said.
"They just notify us of a certain amount of inmates that will be coming in."
Council discusses changing Pecos EMS funding method
By LEIA HOLLAND
PECOS, Thurs., April 11, 2002 -- Pecos Emergency Medical Service personnel
were on hand at the regular Town of Pecos City Council meeting this
morning to discuss the possibility of enacting a voluntary citizen
donation plan to help fund the EMS service.
Mayor Pro Tem Danny Rodriguez addressed the council with concerns about
funding for the ambulance service through local taxes.
He explained there had been meetings discussing the possibility of separating
the ambulance service from the city making it into another taxing entity.
"We have had meetings about trying to have a different district for the
EMS," he said.
Rodriguez said that if the ambulance service were separated into a different
taxing entity, taxpayers would pay 10 cents toward the EMS when they currently
pay 13 cents through the city taxes.
Instead, Rodriguez said that another community with the same problem had
placed a voluntary citizen donation into effect.
"Another community put in a dollar into each water bill voluntarily,"
City Attorney Scott Johnson explained that the way the voluntary donations
would work is adding a box that each citizen could check if they wanted to
The council asked Johnson to look into the possibility further.
City Finance Director George Bejarano handed a list of suggestions on
running the ambulance service more efficiently to Ambulance Service Director
City Manager Carlos Yerena said that the list of suggestions were just
on a few internal procedures.
After the meeting Cravey said that he was unaware of the city's concerns
and was somewhat surprised by the list.
"Some of the things on there we have already done," he said.
During the meeting members of the council expressed their concern that
the EMS service is run well.
"We want to be able to run our department as efficiently as we can," Councilman
Ricky Herrera said.
Cravey said that he has no problems with what was requested on the list
and plans to meet with Yerena and Bejarano.
In other action this morning, the council awarded a contract to Allcomm
Long Distance and Oilfield Phone Service for 22 new computers to be installed
at the new Pecos Municipal Criminal Justice Center.
Yerena explained to the council that Allcomm was one of three bids turned
in to the city for the police department's computer system.
Pecos Police Chief Clay McKinney said that he had looked over the bids
and based his recommendation on price and history of the company.
"We feel our best recommendation is Allcomm," he said.
Allcomm turned in a bid of $37,185.32, which includes all new equipment
for the 22 computer systems the police department needs.
Johnson said the city favored the proposal from Allcomm, which would install
new computers, rather than go with another bid that refurbished the old computers.
"The option of going with new ones was cheaper than refurbishing old
ones," he said.
McKinney also explained that Allcomm would add a one-year warranty on
labor if any computer were to break down.
Allcomm Vice President Don Alligood assured the council that if they approved
his company's bid that they would begin installing the computers today.
The council tabled awarding of engineering services for the Pecos Single
Family Subdivision on Yerena's request.
The council also received an update on the development of the South Worsham
Water Well Field from Spencer & Associates Engineer Ashek Rana.
Rana explained that eight successful water wells have been drilled each
emitting 170 to 750 gallons of water per minute.
Rana said that that totals 4,000 gallons per minute which is "what we
expected from 20 wells."
However, Spencer & Associates plan to drill all of the 18 holes that
are funded in order to have extra wells for the future.
Also this morning, the council approved the monthly reports from the municipal
court and juvenile offices as well as the accounts payable and minutes from
the previous meeting.
Credit by Exam sign-up deadline Friday for students
PECOS, Thurs., April 11, 2002 -- Friday is the sign-up deadline for Credit
by Examination (without prior instruction), at the counselor's office at
the Pecos High School.
Students can sign up with Pat Cobos or Eva Arriola. The test is scheduled
for 4:45 p.m. on May 13, 14 and 15 at the high school.
Credit by examination for acceleration allows students enrolled in grades
nine through 12 to be awarded credit toward high school graduation for acceleration.
Students who wish to obtain for any class that counts toward graduation
may apply to take the examination for acceleration. The student may not have
been previously enrolled in the class. Application may be obtained from the
student's guidance counselor.
Credit is granted to students who attain 90 percent or above mastery on
the examination for acceleration. The test will only be administered once
in the fall and spring semesters.
PECOS, Thurs., April 11, 2002 -- High Wednesday 91. Low this morning 58.
Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Lows 55 to 60. South winds 5 to
15 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. Highs in the lower 90s. South winds
5 to 15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy. Lows near 55. Saturday: Partly
cloudy. Highs 85 to 90. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Lows in the mid 50s.
Highs from the upper 80s to the lower 90s.
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.
Copyright 2002 by Pecos Enterprise