Thirteen people were taken to the hospital, including 10 Tarrant County inmates, after a prisoner transport van crashed Tuesday afternoon in north Fort Worth, MedStar spokesman Matt Zavadsky said.
The van was traveling northbound on Interstate 35W and exiting onto Meacham Boulevard when it was rear-ended by another vehicle, Sheriff’s Department spokesman Terry Grisham said.
Fort Worth firefighters said the vehicle had “failed to yield” on the I-35W service road and hit the back of the van, fire spokesman Lt. Gregg Russell wrote in a news release.
Two Fort Worth fire engines first responded to the accident at 1:23 p.m., but two more were sent out once they saw the number of patients, Russell said.
“… At least one and possibly two of the patients may have involved fractures. According to crews on scene, the most severely injured patients were located in the sheriff’s van,” Russell wrote.
Most of the other injuries include complaints of “back and knee issues,” he wrote.
Zavadsky said a total of 17 people were involved in the crash.
Two people were extricated from a sport utility vehicle and taken to Texas Heath Resources Harris Methodist Fort Worth in serious condition.
All 11 people in the prisoner van were taken to local hospitals, Zavadsky said.
Two prisoners who had serious injuries were taken to Harris, and the eight remaining prisoners, and one Tarrant County Sheriff’s deputy who was driving, were taken to John Peter Smith with minor injuries, he said.
Two people not in the prison van “departed the scene” before they could be evaluated, Zavadsky said.
Seven ambulances responded.
The van was likely going from downtown Fort Worth to the county’s Green Bay jail facility, which is near the scene of the crash, Grisham said.
Grisham said all transport vans are equipped with seat belts.
“We would not transport an inmate … unless they had a seat belt on,” Grisham said.
He said because he wasn’t at the scene he doesn’t know if they all complied, but per policy all inmates have to have their restraints on before the van moves.
He said they all wear handcuffs during transport, and sometimes inmates are handcuffed together.
“I don’t know anything about those particular 10 inmates,” Grisham said. “We are just concerned for everyone’s safety.”
The area where the crash occurred is in a construction zone, part of the I-35W North Tarrant Express project.