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Officers, inmates injured in wreck

By CHRISTOPHER FERRELL

Eagle Staff Writer

Two officers from a private prison facility and three inmates being transferred there from Huntsville were injured Monday when their van clipped another vehicle and rolled over into a ditch in Madison County.

The Department of Public Safety reported that none of the five passengers suffered serious or life-threatening injuries. Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Larry Fitzgerald said the vehicle belongs to a private correctional facility operated by the Wackenhut Corp. in Mineral Wells.

The 2002 Ford van was traveling north on Interstate 45 at 3:16 p.m. when another van tried to pass it on the right. The driver of the Wackenhut van, Linda Brasket, veered into the right lane and struck the left rear panel of the other van, according to DPS.

The Wackenhut van went into a ditch on the east side of the highway and rolled on to its top.

DPS said the two officers were wearing seat belts and the three inmates were wearing shackles. Fitzgerald said a pipe and Plexiglas wall that separates the drivers and passengers may have acted as a roll bar and spared everyone from serious injuries.

The two employees, Brasket, 37, and John Vallance, 49, were taken to Madison St. Joseph Health Center in Madisonville, where they were in stable condition. The three prisoners, Timothy Craig, 36, Johnny Armstrong, 19, and Roberto Cruz, 32, were all taken to the Madisonville hospital before being transferred to other facilities.

Armstrong and Cruz were both taken to the Wackenhut facility and Craig was taken to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.

Wackenhut operates a program at its Mineral Wells facility where inmates from the prison system spend six months before being released from their sentences, Fitzgerald said.

• Christopher Ferrell’s e-mail address is cferrell@theeagle.com.

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