Drilling company faces lawsuit

BY STEVE MCCONNELL
Times-Shamrock Writer

A federal lawsuit has been filed against a drilling company that is part of the natural gas industry in Northeast Pennsylvania, claiming an overweight Mack truck and its reckless driver killed a man in a crash when the truck toppled onto his car.

The wife of John T. Jones III and his 18-year-old daughter, Allison Jones, who futilely tried to revive her dying father in the Susquehanna County crash in July, are plaintiffs in the federal suit filed Dec. 13 against Southeast Directional Drilling and company employee, James R. Hoffpauir, according to the suit.

The wrongful death suit seeks more than $75,000.

Hoffpauir, of Montgomery, Texas, was driving a company 1998 Mack Truck east on Route 4002 in Liberty Twp. on July 29 when he failed to stop at a stop sign at an intersection with Route 29, the suit states.

Mr. Hoffpauir then drove south in the northbound lane of Route 29 where his truck hit Jones’ 2011 Subaru Legacy, which was driving north, and overturned onto it, the suit states.

The suit claims the Casa Grande,Ariz., drilling company’s truck was overweight and was carrying a tanker loaded with roughly 3,000 gallons of mud.

The company has a “combined field experience of over one hundred years in pipelining and directional drilling,” according to its website, and in summer 2011, was conducting natural gas drilling operations in SusquehannaCounty, according to the suit.

Todd Barton, a company vice president, declined to comment about the federal lawsuit against his company when reached by phone on Thursday.

Efforts to locate Mr. Hoffpauir were unsuccessful.

Allison Jones, who was a passenger in her 57-year-old father’s car, was trapped but managed to pull herself out while her arms and legs were bleeding.

“Allison Jones was 17 years old at the time of the collision, and her physical and emotional scars will remain with her for the rest of her life,” according to the suit.