Watch Now

Texas jury awards $730M in fatal crash involving nuclear sub propeller

Truck hauling oversized load hit woman’s vehicle on narrow bridge

Toni Combest was killed when her vehicle collided with a flatbed truck hauling a 197,000-pound submarine propeller on Feb. 21, 2016, near Pleasant Grove, Texas. (Photo: Courtesy of Goudarzi & Young)

A Texas jury awarded $730 million on Monday to the family of a 73-year-old woman who was killed in a 2016 collision with a tractor pulling a flatbed trailer carrying an oversized load.

Toni Combest was killed Feb. 21, 2016, in Titus County, Texas, near the town of Mount Pleasant, when her vehicle collided with a truck operated by Landstar Ranger Inc. hauling a 197,000-pound propeller for a Navy nuclear submarine across a bridge. 

According to court documents, the propeller was being transported in a multistate shipment, a portion of which travelled from El Paso to Texarkana, Texas. The load was being escorted by both front and back escort vehicles. The truck and escort vehicles were traveling southbound on U.S. Highway 271 and Combest was traveling northbound.

The truck was in the northbound lane of the bridge when Combest began crossing it, according to the court documents, which said the driver of the truck was able to swerve the vehicle out of Combest’s lane but was unable to remove the entire load from her path before it struck her vehicle. 

Combest was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

Her family sued Landstar Ranger, S&M Pilot Service and 2A Pilot Cars for negligence.

Landstar Ranger settled about a week prior to scheduled jury selection for $50 million. S&M Pilot Service, the employer of the rear escort driver, also settled prior to trial for $1 million. The trial went forward against 2A Pilot Cars, the employer of the driver of the front escort vehicle.

The jury awarded $480 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages, making it one of the largest wrongful death verdicts in the country.

“This part of Texas is full of narrow bridges and yet they had no plan for navigating them,” Brent Goudarzi, a partner with Goudarzi & Young and an attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Noi Mahoney.

More articles by Noi Mahoney

Could Austin-San Antonio region be the next Freight Alley?

Breaker 1/9: What happened to CB radios?

Texas filling border barrier gaps with shipping containers

F3: Future of Freight Festival


The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.

One Comment

  1. Leslie C

    I make more then $12,000 a month online. It’s enough to comfortably replace my old jobs income, especially considering, I only work about 11 to 12 hours a week from home. I was amazed how easy it was after I tried it…

    HERE ➤➤ 𝐖𝐰𝐰.𝐂𝐚𝐬𝐡𝐓𝐫𝐞𝐞𝟔.𝐂𝐨𝐦

Comments are closed.

Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]