Road rage: A mother's quest for justice - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Road rage: A mother's quest for justice

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Lisa Barlow tends to her hospitalized daughter, Jennifer Russell, prior to her death. (Courtesy) Lisa Barlow tends to her hospitalized daughter, Jennifer Russell, prior to her death. (Courtesy)
Jennifer Russell was seriously injured in a 2016 road rage crash in Denison. (KTEN) Jennifer Russell was seriously injured in a 2016 road rage crash in Denison. (KTEN)
Jennifer Russell practices walking after the amputation of her right leg. (KTEN) Jennifer Russell practices walking after the amputation of her right leg. (KTEN)
Tripp Bird and Josh Halliburton were arrested in connection with the crash that eventually led to Jennifer Russel's death. (Grayson County Jail) Tripp Bird and Josh Halliburton were arrested in connection with the crash that eventually led to Jennifer Russel's death. (Grayson County Jail)
Jennifer Russell with family members in the hospital. (Courtesy) Jennifer Russell with family members in the hospital. (Courtesy)

DENISON, Texas -- We’ve all experienced road rage; when drivers get angry behind the wheel.

It is so common that a 2016 study by the American Automobile Association found that nearly 80 percent of drivers admitted to engaging in some form of road rage.

But road rage can tragically be more than honking horns and obscene gestures. Lisa Barlow of Denison recently lost her daughter to what investigators called a road rage accident.

"I knew my life was over as I knew it before," she said.

Jennifer Russell, 28, was seriously injured in the June 2016 wreck. Barlow said it all started when Russell's boyfriend got angry at a driver for cutting him off. Barlow said both drivers went their separate ways, butt later that same day, the other motorist and his friend came back for them and chased them down Grayson Drive at speeds up to 90 mph.

"One vehicle had run their vehicle off the road, and so he went into oncoming traffic to avoid the vehicle that was trying to stop him,” Barlow recalled.

Within four months, Russell underwent more than 20 surgeries. Her right leg was amputated due to infection.

It was all too much. On December 4, Russell passed away. 

Now Barlow says she is seeking justice. She hopes the two motorists arrested in connection with the wreck -- Tripp Bird and Josh Halliburton -- will know the weight of their actions.

“I want justice; I need justice," Barlow said. "I know justice won’t bring her back, but hopefully it will keep some other mother from suffering like this.”

Accidents caused by road rage are on the rise in Texoma. The Texas Department of Transportation said there were 1,327 road rage crashes investigated by law enforcement in 2016; five of those led to fatal injuries.

A new study by AAA said 56 percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S. are caused by at least one form of aggressive driving.

Over the same period in 2016, the Oklahoma  Highway Safety Office said there were 11 fatal accidents in Southern Oklahoma and TxDOT said there were 26 deadly crashes in Grayson, Fannin and Cooke counties.

So how do we prevent road rage? Recognize the signs:

  • tailgating
  • verbal threats and provocative gestures
  • honking horns

Denison police spokesman Lt. Mike Eppler suggested that you avoid engaging with aggressive drivers and call 911 when you spot a problem motorist.

"If you think a situation is beginning ... just do what you've got to do to get away from that situation -- whether it’s making a turn on another road, or just pull over, let that person go by you -- but just don’t let it get under your skin to the point where you start engaging them, because that’s when it really starts escalating,” he said.

So the next time you see an aggressive driver (or you feel angry toward other motorists), Lisa Barlow hopes you will remember her daughter Jennifer and think about how a precious life can be lost in an instant.

"It still hurts," Barlow said. "I don’t think that pain is ever going to go ... I feel cheated, you know, and robbed, and I know she was cheated... our whole family was cheated.”

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