Colorado lawmaker grieves crash that killed Texas mom

By STEVEN K. PAULSON Associated Press

DENVER — Colorado state Sen. Suzanne Williams says a car crash that injured her son and two grandchildren and killed a pregnant woman in Texas is a burden she will carry the rest of her life.

"I cannot express the horror, sadness and grief I feel for an accident that will change forever the lives of a young family," Williams said in a statement Tuesday.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said 30-year-old Brianna Michelle Gomez, of Amarillo, Texas, died after Williams' SUV veered into oncoming traffic on Sunday night and collided with her family's vehicle. Her baby boy was delivered by cesarean section and remains in critical condition.

Williams' son, 41-year-old Todd Williams, was in serious condition Tuesday at Northwest Texas Hospital. His 3-year-old son Tristan was in satisfactory condition but his 7-year-old brother, Tyler, has been released, hospital spokeswoman Caytie Martin said.

Gomez' husband and two children were treated and released.

Texas State Trooper Gabriel Medrano said the 65-year-old senator was driving a 2010 Honda CRV northbound on U.S. 385 in Hartley County when she veered into southbound traffic "for an unknown reason" and collided with a 2003 GMC Yukon in which Gomez was riding.

Neither Williams' son nor her grandsons were wearing seat belts.

Williams sponsored legislation this year to increase fines on all drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts, but agreed to amend her bill to apply only to children not properly restrained in car seats after Republicans claimed it would violate the civil rights of drivers.

Williams didn't immediately return a telephone call seeking further comment Tuesday.

Rep. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, said she spoke with Williams on Monday night and Williams told her that she has "a blurred memory" of the accident.

She said the family told her Todd Williams unbuckled his seat belt and climbed into the back seat to put pajamas on his children, who were also unbuckled so he could put them to bed for the long drive to Colorado. Todd said it only took a moment of distraction and Williams deeply regrets the tragedy.

"She has been a real fighter for real change, with the protection and safety of children foremost in her mind. The fact that her children and grandchildren were endangered will be something she will use to make others realize how important seat belts are," Todd said.

Todd said Williams was taking her family to Vail to go skiing over the holidays.

Williams told the Senate Transportation Committee at a hearing on her bill in February that parents have to set an example by using seat belts.

"We are the models, the adults are the models for these children. If you have children or grandchildren of your own as I do, you know that they don't buckle up," she told the committee.

State Sen. Kevin Lundberg, a Republican from Berthoud, said he is a distant relative of the woman killed in the crash. He said he got a call from his cousin, Brad Lundberg of Tyler, Texas, telling him that his niece had been killed in a car crash that also involved a Colorado state senator.

"It gets sobering when you can see a tragedy like this from both sides," Lundberg said.


Associated Press writer Colleen Slevin contributed to this report.