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Postal Truck Crash Kills Girl

April 22, 1998

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Four-year-old Nicole Valles died when a postal truck crashed into her apartment at the bottom of an exit ramp off Interstate 35. Neighbors said it wasn’t the first time the house has been hit.

``It’s a real dangerous place,″ said Rueben Gonzalez, who works at a building near the accident scene. ``That house has been clipped several times.″

The truck plowed into the building Tuesday, killing Nicole and injuring her 3-year-old brother and parents. Police said the trucker jumped out of the rig and to safety before the crash.

It was one of a trio of unusual vehicle accidents this week that left children dead in three different states.

Missouri investigators were trying to determine what caused the truck to crash. No tire marks were found and investigators could not say whether the truck’s brakes failed.

Postal Service officials said the 14-wheeler had been checked within the last six months and that at least half of its brake pads were intact.

The truck plowed into the two-story red brick building and its cab went through the first-floor apartment, crushing Nicole. Firefighters found her younger brother, Dario Valles, under a foot of rubble.

The boy was in fair condition Tuesday with a possible concussion and other injuries. His parents received minor injuries.

Police have recorded 27 accidents at the intersection since Jan. 1, 1997, none of them fatal.

``Everybody knew what it was when we heard the sound,″ said neighbor Mario Rojas, who described it as a ``loud, quick boom.″

The truck’s driver, Sinclair Taylor, 27, was treated at a hospital and released. Taylor received his commercial driver’s license in March 1996 and has never had a traffic violation, a Revenue Department spokeswoman said.

Taylor declined to comment. The building manager, Ronald Jury, said he did not know of any vehicles crashing into the building.

About three years ago, another tractor-trailer bent a metal guardrail in front of the building, and the rail was removed and not replaced, neighbors said. Jury said he wasn’t sure if there was a barricade this time.

Also Tuesday, a speeding van careened onto a sidewalk in Miami, killing an infant in her stroller and seriously injuring her mother and 17-month-old sister. The Miami Herald reported that police expected to charge the driver with drunken-driving manslaughter.

And in Lansing, Mich., police said a man who had been stabbed in the chest and was driving himself to a hospital lost consciousness and crashed into a porch on Monday, killing a 4-year-old girl and injuring her 3-year-old playmate.

Update hourly