Blind man who killed two in crash gets 40 years

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Oct. 3, 2008 - A blind man who hit four road construction workers and a parked truck with a Dodge pickup on FM 1567 has been sentenced to a total of 40 years in prison on six charges stemming from the incident.

John Steven Williams, 58, of Sulphur Springs was sentenced to 5 years in prison on each of four convictions for the charges of accident involving injury or death, and 10 years on each of two aggravated assault with a deadly weapon convictions. Two charges of criminally negligent homicide were dismissed.

Williams, who has been in the county jail since May 17 when the crash occurred, was transferred to another facility Thursday to serve time on the charges, according to jail reports.

At about 3 p.m. Saturday, May 17, Williams had been traveling east in his new pickup truck on FM 1567 just west of State Highway 19 south, despite the fact that he is legally blind and does not have a valid driver's license. The pickup struck a stationary cement truck, then backed up, striking four construction workers, and ran into a trailer being pulled by another truck. He then hit two of the men a second time with his truck before fleeing the scene.

Bryan Keith Howell, 46, of Brady and Charles Glenn Skaggs, 41, of Sulphur Springs were pronounced dead at the scene. James Edward Mitchell, 31, of Sulphur Springs was flown from the scene to East Texas Medical Center in Tyler for suspected internal injuries and Travis Wade Moody, 19, of Quitman was taken by ambulance to Hopkins County Memorial Hospital.

While emergency crews worked at the scene, state troopers and Hopkins County sheriff's deputies began scouring the area for the pickup. Williams was located a short time later on County Road 1116 and was arrested by Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Trent Price.

In June, a Hopkins County Grand jury approved indictments alleging manslaughter by recklessly causing the death of Skaggs and Howell by using his pickup to collide with the men, the indictments note.

Williams was also indicted on one charge each for the aggravated assault of Mitchell and Moody. The indictment specified the assault included the use of a deadly weapon with a deadly weapon -- his 2007 Dodge pickup.

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