Driver Of Broom Sweeper Tests Positive For Drugs

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BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) -- It's still a long road ahead for a mom hospitalized almost two months after a broom sweeper drove through her home. The incident not only hurt her, but alo her two-week-old son.

Teresa Ruiz and her son were in their living room early on the morning of June 6 when a broom sweeper, similar to a street sweeper came barreling through the wall trapping them underneath the machine. Benton County Judge Barry Moehring said they still don't know what happened that day to make the driver lose control.

“Obviously our prayers go out to the Ruiz family and now we are going to do everything we can to make sure that something like that doesn't happen again, but we haven't had the actual cause determined as to what happened,” he said.

Moehring said the employee driving the piece of machinery, Jordan Philips resigned from his position a few weeks ago. He said the accident had an impact on him and his drug test came back positive for marijuana.

“Now, having said that it's important to know that he didn't have an impairment at the time. That was confirmed in the state police report. There was no impairment for drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, but it did test in his system,” he said.

Benton County Prosecutor Nathan Smith told 5NEWS they did not prosecute the driver of the broom sweeper because the state police investigator did not see any evidence he was impaired at the time of the accident.

Teresa Ruiz is still in a Springfield hospital. Her attorney, Kevin Wallace said she now has a titanium plate in her skull and in her pelvis. She suffers from memory loss and recently loss vision in her right eye, but it has partially come back. The list of her injuries goes on. Her baby who was also trapped under that machine was released from the hospital and is doing fine.

Wallace said they are gathering facts about the incident and if Benton county continues to claim sovereign immunity then they will be forced to file a lawsuit.

Sovereign immunity keeps governmental entities in Arkansas from being sued for negligence.

Moehring said after the incident a risk management group did an audit and they scored very high, but he said they can do more.

“Clearly something happened out there that day and so we have to go back and do whatever we can to pick that apart and find out what we can do better and we are doing that,” Moehring said.