Weatherford Democrat

August 25, 2013

Dead woman’s family sued by family of Good Samaritan

Civil lawsuit also names driver of one vehicle involved and a Fort Worth bar as defendants


Weatherford Democrat

— By CHRISTIN COYNE

More than a year after a Parker County mother died after being struck by a vehicle on Interstate 35 West in Burleson, her family is still dealing with the fallout.

Lynnda Whitaker said her family still has many questions about how her 30-year-old daughter, Amanda Leann Edwards, ended up in the middle of the highway, alone, on foot, without her cell phone and far from home in the middle of the night.

Making matters worse, the family must now hire an attorney to defend them in a lawsuit filed in Tarrant County and brought by the wife of a Springtown man killed by second driver while trying to help Edwards, according to Whitaker.

“This is too much,” Whitaker said. “To me it’s cold and heartless. Her husband might have been a victim but so was my daughter.”

Edwards, a nurse’s aide and mother of two school-age children, is believed to have been drinking at Fort Worth bars with her best friend hours before the fatal collisions.

According to the Burleson Police Department, Edwards was struck by a minivan shortly after 3 a.m. April 21, 2012, after stepping from the I-35 West median into northbound traffic lanes.

Gene Howard, who witnessed the wreck, along with the minivan driver, both stopped and went to help Edwards. However, a dually pickup reportedly struck Howard, killing him, as well.

The civil lawsuit filed by Tina Howard, the wife of Gene Howard, in Tarrant County seeks $1 million in damages, claiming Edwards created a dangerous situation by walking out in traffic.

It also names one of the drivers involved, John Morell, of Austin, saying he failed to stay alert while driving, keep a proper lookout and control his speed, and the Electric Cowboy, one of two bars that Howard claims overserved Edwards earlier that night. 

The Electric Cowboy denies the allegations and says it was not responsible for the accident.

Attorneys for Morell and Howard could not be reached Thursday.

Edwards, a 1999 graduate of Weatherford High School, was a single parent devoted to her children and a hard-working CNA beloved by the residents she cared for, according to her mother.

Her daughter was making some changes in her life when she died, Whitaker said.

Edwards had just purchased a house off Azle Highway and, after preparing a budget with Whitaker, planned to make that Friday night the last one out for a while, Whitaker said.

Whitaker said she was told the two women went drinking at the Electric Cowboy, one of Edwards’ favorite places to go, and then Best Friends Club in Fort Worth that night.

She’s not been able to speak with Edwards’ long-time friend about what happened that night and police weren’t able to obtain much information about how Edwards ended up in the middle of the highway way miles from home or the bar, Whitaker said.

Edwards’ daughter and son, now 13 and 9 years old, are still struggling with the loss of their mother, according to Whitaker.

In addition to the unanswered questions that have pained the family, Whitaker said she now has to hire an attorney after the family of the man who stopped to help Edwards and was also killed filed a lawsuit naming Edwards heirs.

“My daughter was a victim,” Whitaker said. “We don’t know why or how [she was in the middle of the highway].”