PURCELL — A McClain County jury has awarded $2.8 million in damages to Toby Keith's mother and her children in the traffic death of Keith's father, H.K. Covel.
An attorney representing the family said Keith thinks the verdict is just.
"The jury found no fault on the part of Mr. Covel in the wreck that claimed his life,” Purcell attorney Greg Dixon said.
Jurors unanimously found against Elias Rodriguez and Pedro Rodriguez, doing business as Rodriguez Transportes of Tulsa, and the Republic Western Insurance Co. of Arizona.
According to evidence presented in the trial, a charter bus owned by the Rodriguezes was "in urgent need” of brake work, Dixon said. The owners had been advised of the brake problem before the March 2001 accident on Interstate 35 near Goldsby, the attorney said.
About the crash
Covel of Moore was driving north on I-35 when his truck was bumped by another vehicle, knocking it across the center median.
It was hit by a southbound charter-type bus carrying 21 passengers, including the owners, Dixon said.
Initially it was speculated that Covel might have suffered a medical condition, causing his truck to veer out of control, Dixon said.
When it later was learned that Covel's truck had been bumped, the family hired an investigator and filed a civil lawsuit to clear Covel's name, Dixon said.
Plaintiffs alleged Covel would not have died if the bus had been equipped with properly working air brakes.
Plaintiffs were H.K. Covel's wife, Carolyn Covel; his daughter, Tonni Covel; and sons Toby Keith Covel and Tracey Covel.
The verdict was returned last week in District Judge Candace Blaylock's courtroom.