Four injured when pickup runs into side of RITA van

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Staff report

Four people were injured at noon Wednesday when a pickup plowed into a Rowan County-owned van transporting a dialysis patient.

John Long, 55, of Steeple Chase Trail, stopped a Rowan Individual Transport Assistance) van on Statesville Boulevard and was preparing to turn left onto Dorsett Street where the dialysis center is located.

Salisbury Police Officer Brad Jordan said a 1988 Chevrolet pickup driven by Victor Nunez, 39, of Maupin Avenue, struck the van in the rear.

Nunez told police that the brakes failed.

Jordan said he checked the brakes and they were not working. He said Nunez also attempted to swerve to miss the van, but it was too late.

Nunez, and his wife, Anatalia Escota, 38, also of Maupin Avenue, were injured.

Long, the driver of the van, and the dialysis patient, Thomas Speigner, 51, of East Horah Street, were also injured.

All four were transported to Rowan Regional Medical Center. Officer Jordan said Nunez and his wife were undergoing surgery Wednesday afternoon.

Nunez was in good condition Wednesday night, according to a hospital spokesperson, while his wife was still in surgery.

Long was treated in the emergency room and released, the spokesperson said, and Speigner was admitted and listed in fair condition Wednesday night.

An investigation is continuing. Jordan said the vehicle Nunez was driving was borrowed.

MV Transportation Inc., a private company, operates the county transit system using county-owned vans.

Clyde Fahnstock, Senior Service director whose department funds the program, said RITA (Rowan Individual Transport Assistance) has an excellent safety record with only two minor at-fault accidents in the the last three years.

Fahnstock said reports indicated the van buckled from the impact, requiring emergency personnel to use cutting tools to remove the passenger.

Initial reports indicated the van suffered at least $6,000 in damage.

Steve Julian, general manager of MV Transportation, could not be reached.