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Colorado Springs mom fights for justice one year after son killed in crash at work

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - The mom of a man who was killed on the job is now fighting to change workers compensation laws that prevent you from suing your employer.

Jean Houston is making it her mission to try and make sure no other family has to go through what she endured when her son, Stephen Houston, died after crashing his District 20 work truck last February -- the street sander flying through the back window and killing him on impact.

"It's not about the money, it's holding the employer responsible," she told KRDO.

Despite the investigation concluding Stephen was speeding, Jean believes his employer is at fault, since detectives also said there was too much sand inside the truck and no extra safety precautions to prevent Stephen's injuries.

"The accident was survivable but for the improperly mounted equipment," Houston said.

During our previous coverage at the time of the crash, District 20 said there's debate over the effectiveness of optional "headache racks," the most common equipment used to prevent what happened to Stephen.

Still, Houston is working with local legislators to rid the system of loopholes that protect schools from lawsuits in certain situations like Stephen's.

Houston also wants to increase the amount of money families are compensated funeral expenses when something like this happens. It's been capped at seven thousand dollars for years, and she thinks it's time that amount goes up because of inflation.

"I have no qualms with saying I think they need to increase it to ten thousand dollars easily," Houston said. "And I don't think anybody in this day and age would fight me on that, except for workers compensation."

We reached out to District 20 Sunday night for a response to Jean Houston's efforts, but we're still waiting to hear back.

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Julia Donovan

Julia is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Julia here.

Comments

4 Comments

  1. This is how you beat them at their own game. I was unable to sue my employer due to these dune employment laws. It was direct result of me being forced to rake part in an experiment that involved sulfuric acid without wearing the proper gear. That was a wanton and willful act by a superior over me. Had I refused to assist him, I could have been fired immediately! As a result, I ended up in a local emergency room! Later, I had to go to a lung and respiration specialists! Probably the reason I have so much scar tissue in my throat! But you see Colorado, when an employer and/or employee is accused of something that would defeat any public or government employee’s and/or municipality’s right of dismissal pursuant to their various immunity doctrines/clauses from civil actions as granted to them pursuant to State and Federal law, the litigant worker who has filed for relief with the proper agency at the very least should have the option prior to the agency rendering its decision, to dismiss the proceedings without prejudice and pursue a normal civil action against all parties involved. Especially, where although the employer may be private, they are regulated by some State or Federal agency. In regards to he standards and rules the company and its employees must adhere to at all times in performance of its daily duties! This will all make sense when you think about it! But I am not about to spoil it for you! Kick back and watch me cost the State at least $100 million this year and get just for mr and a whole bunch of other people too! I told you I was coming so you should have baked me a cake! 😎👌🏿💰😂🤓🔥💲❤️

  2. “District 20 said there’s debate over the effectiveness of optional “headache racks,” the most common equipment used to prevent what happened to Stephen.”
    .
    So rather than spend a few dollars in each vehicle for possible safety, the school district will spend thousands to argue about spending it? Sounds just like a government bureaucracy.

  3. Headache rack from Back Rack…. Depending on model is around $200. Easy to install. Mine took me less than 1hr by myself.
    Sand spreader for a pick up…. ~$4500.00
    So the safety equipment is pennies to the whole setup. Especially when you look at it saving a life or major injury.
    I do also know that when you are operating a truck such as this you do not speed. You are hauling so much weight you are supposed to drive like a big rig. Nice and easy. For so many reasons.
    Another questions would be was he properly trained and made aware of proper driving with the sand spreader. If yes. Then it is his own fault. He knew the risks and rushed anyways. Stll sad all around.

  4. Stephen was not known to be a speeder, and the initial reports said speed was not a factor, so I question how speed was determined and if they took into account the overloaded pick-up, the slope of the road and the ice patch that was hit.

    It still comes down to the fact that he trusted his employer to follow installation requirements and they did not. The sander was not attached to the frame of the truck and the cotter pins were not on the sander grate. He only had a broken rib, but couldn’t survive the equipment coming through the back window and severing his spinal column at the brain stem. The district has not been help accountable for the loss of his life.

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