Parents of deceased Quitman teen files suit against General Motors

TYLER/SMITH COUNTY (KYTX) - The parents of a 15-year-old Quitman girl killed in a Van Zandt County auto accident in February 2011 have filed a federal lawsuit against General Motors.

Skylar Brooke Carpenter was "properly restrained" in a 2007 Chevrolet Suburban driven by Debra Holcombe when the Suburban flipped on Texas 17 near Interstaet 20. Carpenter was among six Quitman High School FFA students on their way to a convention in San Antonio.

Skylar's surviving parents, David and Becky Carpenter, filed a suit in federal court in Tyler on Thursday against General Motors, claiming that the vehicle's restraining system failed to protect their daughter.

According to the Southeast Texas Record, General Motors is accused of knowing that the vehicle failed to provide adequate occupant protection in a rollover, failed to provide adequate restraint throughout the entire accident, violated the principles of crashworthiness by not providing proper restraint and by not preventing ejection, and for failing to conduct adequate testing or proper engineering analysis.



VAN ZANDT COUNTY (KYTX) - One Quitman student is dead and another is in critical condition tonight in a wreck that happened near Canton this afternoon.

6 Quitman High School students and a driver were in an SUV. 

15-year-old Skylar Carpenter was killed when the suburban flipped on Highway 17 near Interstate 20.

"They left after 3rd period, they were all pretty excited," says Vanessa Reynolds, an old friend of Skylar Carpenter.

Quitman high school FFA students, including Skylar Carpenter, were on their way to a convention in San Antonio, when the trip turned deadly.

"Appears the driver veered off the road to the right, lost control, steered to the left, over corrected to the right," says Trooper Ben Rolison.

That caused the suburban with the 6 students and driver to flip across Highway 17, killing Skylar, critically injuring one, and hurting 2 others.

"I heard about it at school, they had an accident, I didn't know Skylar was in there," says Reynolds.

"I was scared, I didn't know the details, didn't know if all were gone, just didn't know.  It scared me," says Travis Owens.

Scared because they found out while still in class.

"Just started praying, didn't know what else to do," says Owens.

Many came to visit the 3 students that were taken to Trinity Mother Frances.

"He's still making jokes, that's a good thing," says Owens about his friend.

Others stayed in Quitman, with heavy hearts, trying to take in the information.

"She was a nice girl, I just couldn't believe it," says Reynolds.

Troopers continue the investigation, while those who knew the students started thinking about how different their lives will be when they get to school.

"Definitely be hard, a lot of tears, a lot of prayers," says Owens.

Rick Flanagan, Quitman's interim superintendent, released a statement saying in part...

"...We ask that the public pray for everyone involved and for the recovery of those who are hospitalized from their injuries."

Trinity Mother Frances Hospital is making available its pastoral care department for students and family members of those being treated.

Quitman ISD has requested counseling assistance from surrounding school districts for students tomorrow. 




by Cathryn Khalil

VAN ZANDT COUNTY (KYTX) -- One student is dead and three others have been injured after a Quitman ISD SUV filled with Future Farmers of America member students veered off a rural road and flipped.

Six students were passengers in the Suburban, driven by 53-year-old Deborah Holcombe, who is a Quitman ISD high school teacher. The vehicle was headed southbound on FM 17 just before 3:00 pm on Thursday when it apparently veered off the westbound side of the roadway.
The driver overcorrected, which caused it to flip, according the Department of Public Safety.

15-year-old Skylar Brooke Carpenter was ejected from the vehicle, and was pronounced dead at the scene. Justice of the Peace Ronnie Daniell said Carpenter was sitting in the far back seat on the passenger side.

"The vehicle rolled multiple times," Daniell said. "It busted the windows out. The vehicle is just really torn up."

A 15-year-old female student was taken to Mother Frances hospital in Tyler by helicopter. She is in critical condition. Two other students, a 17-year-old female and a 18-year-old male, were taken to Mother Frances by ambulance, and are listed in fair condition.

Holcombe was not injured in the accident.

Daniell said Carpenter's mother works at QISD.

The students were all members of Future Farmers of America, and were part of a convoy of vehicles from QISD that were en route to San Antonio to a FFA event.

Some information courtesy of the Tyler Morning Telegraph. 


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