David Moody

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Sprinklers Cause Wreck and Serious Injuries

David Moody assisted an elderly gentleman recover $100,000 for his injuries when the nursing home in which he was residing ran its sprinklers on a freezing day and the gentlemen broke his hip walking on the frozen sidewalk.  Call 806-791-2400 for more information.  Water injuries. 

Lubbock Avalanche Journal, January 12, 2011

City officials on Tuesday issued a written warning to a Lubbock apartment complex in lieu of a citation after police say sprinkler runoff contributed to a serious crash early Tuesday morning at Quaker Avenue and 66th Street.  While the warning was the first written notice for the Courtyards by the Lake, police say they already verbally warned complex officials about turning off the sprinklers in freezing conditions following a minor crash near the same location Monday.

Lt. JonCaspell said a large icy patch — that stretched across the southbound lanes — was believed to be a contributing factor in the crash that seriously injured Ryan Scoggins, a 21-year-old Texas Tech student from Austin, early Tuesday morning.  Police also suspected speed and alcohol were factors, though the investigation was ongoing.  Scoggins was driving south on Quaker when he hit a large icy patch just after a curve on the thoroughfare near 66th Street. 

Just before 3 a.m. Tuesday, emergency personnel used Jaws to free Scoggins from his vehicle.  He was rushed him to University Medical Center with “very serious injuries” after he spun out and hit a tree, Caspell said.   His injuries were initially described as life threatening, but police later said Scoggins was expected to survive.  He was in critical condition at University Medical Center on Tuesday afternoon, according to a hospital official.

Caspell said the sprinklers at the Courtyard by the Lakes apartment complex weren’t running when officers arrived on scene. However, he added it was pretty obvious after following the icy trail that it was caused by runoff that originated from the complex, located at 6504 Quaker Avenue.

City ordinance bars sprinklers from running once the temperature drops below 35 degrees. Violation is a Class C Misdemeanor, which carries a fine up to $500.  Stuart Walker, the city’s code administration manager, said it’s standard for the city to first issue a written warning regarding water violations  .“We issued a written notice that we found a violation, and they have to correct it,” Walker said.

His office was not aware of any complaints about or warnings to the apartment complex prior to Tuesday morning.  Police officials didn’t anticipate any criminal charges against the complex.  Bryan Kastleman, a partner in the Austin-based company that owns the complex, said on Tuesday that he needed to talk with the property supervisor, who was traveling this week, before commenting. 

Caspell said the portion of the local ordinance that bars sprinklers once the temperature drops to 35 degrees — passed by Lubbock City Council about four years ago — was aimed at preventing crashes caused by runoff that then freezes on the roadway.  Temperatures hovered mostly in the low 30s throughout the day on Monday before dropping in the teens or single digits in the overnight hours.  While Walker said there haven’t been any official complaints against the complex this winter season, his office had record of one complaint in December 2009.  

He also wasn’t aware that any citations had been issued to the apartment complex in the past.  However, Caspell said police department records indicate that a dispatcher apparently notified the Courtyard by the Lakes apartment complex on Monday morning to turn off its sprinklers in freezing conditions following a crash that occurred near the same location on Monday.   No injuries were reported in that crash, which happened at about 6 a.m. at 64th Street and Quaker Avenue.

Lubbock Police also got a report that a vehicle lost control at the same area at about 7:50 a.m. Monday, but a crash did not occur.  It was unclear from dispatch records what business or location actually caused the water runoff in the two cases.  Records just state: “Businesses were advised.”

A bank near the location also has had at least one complaint this season, according to the codes office.  But the area is a familiar one for the codes department.  Walker said the city has received numerous complaints about Quaker near 66th Street.“That’s a regular on our complaint hotline,” Walker said.   “It’s a constant area of concern.”  But Quaker wasn’t the only area in Lubbock with problems.  “We take a pretty steady stream of complaints (about water violations),” Walker said.   Since Oct. 1, the office has taken 161 complaints — mostly about sprinklers running in freezing temperatures and broken sprinkler heads, according to city records.   The codes department found 45 violations in which they issued 45 written warnings.

Walker said water violation investigations are both complaint driven and identified on a proactive basis as inspectors drive around looking for issues when they are in the field.  The biggest problem centers on residents and businesses running sprinklers on a timer overnight during the winter.  Many times, residents just forget that the sprinklers are running and don’t think to check when temperatures are expected to drop below 35 degrees, Walker said.  Authorities urge residents with sprinklers to be mindful of the weather conditions and turn off water when temperatures reach 35 degrees.   Walker recommended residents run sprinklers during the day this time of year so they can keep track of problems, including broken sprinkler heads.

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