PURCELL, Okla. – Toby Keith, his mother and his siblings have been awarded $2.8 million in damages in the 2001 collision that killed the country music star's father.
A jury returned the verdict against Elias Rodriguez and Pedro Rodriguez, operators of Rodriguez Transportes of Tulsa, and the Republic Western Insurance Co.
According to evidence presented at trial, a charter bus owned by the Rodriguezes was "in urgent need" of brake repairs before H.K. Covel was killed in the March 2001 accident on Interstate 35, said attorney Greg Dixon, who represented Keith's family. The Rodriguezes had been advised of the brake problem before Covel's truck crossed the center median and struck the bus, he said.
The family initially suspected Covel suffered a medical condition that caused the truck to veer out of control. It later learned another vehicle had bumped the truck and filed a wrongful death lawsuit to clear Covel's name, Dixon said.
The verdict was returned last week. "The jury found no fault on the part of Mr. Covel in the wreck that claimed his life," Dixon said.
The plaintiffs, wife Carolyn Covel, daughter Tonni Covel and sons Toby Keith Covel and Tracey Covel, alleged that H.K. Covel would not have died if the bus had been equipped with properly working air brakes.