AUSTIN (KXAN) — The family of an Austin Police Department officer who died after a crash with a semi-truck is suing the truck driver and the trucking company, Sysco Corporation, in a lawsuit filed this week.
Officer Andy Traylor, a nine-year veteran with APD, died in late July, a few days after getting into a crash with an 18-wheeler on FM 969. APD says Traylor was responding to a call when the truck with an attached box trailer made a U-turn in front of his marked patrol car.
The lawyer for Traylor’s family claims the Sysco truck driver made an improper and unsafe U-turn that resulted in his death.
The lawsuit states the semi-truck driver was going westbound on FM 969, ahead of Traylor, who was heading in the same direction. After seeing a railroad crossing arm down and blocking traffic, the lawsuit claims the truck driver tried to avoid it by making an “unreasonably dangerous U-turn,” which spanned across both westbound lanes, the middle lane and the opposing eastbound lanes of FM 969.
It was dark, and the sudden U-turn didn’t give Traylor enough time to respond and avoid the truck, the lawsuit says. At the time of the crash, the lawsuit states the box trailer “was perpendicular to the direction of traffic,” and Traylor’s patrol car got stuck underneath it.
The family’s lawyer, Stephen Stewart, told KXAN it was important to file the lawsuit before September 1, when a new law governing how lawsuits against trucking companies can be carried out went into effect.
The legislation, House Bill 19, outlines the procedures plaintiffs must follow when suing truck drivers and their trucking companies.
A spokesperson for Sysco released a statement about Traylor’s death, saying, “the Sysco family is deeply saddened about the passing of Officer Traylor. This is a tragic loss to the Austin community, and we offer our condolences and prayers to the officer’s family, friends and colleagues.”
The trucking company says it can’t comment on current litigation and continues to cooperate with Austin Police and other law enforcement agencies.
Stewart says he wants to ensure trucking companies don’t needlessly endanger other motorists. Traylor’s family is seeking monetary relief for more than $1 million, according to the lawsuit.