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Daughter of KBR employee killed by friendly fire in Iraq can sue

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I published my first post on this tragedy well over a year ago. I was inundated with comments from people who had information or insight on this case. After you read this post be sure to read the comments on Lawsuit blames KBR in driver death at Anaconda Iraq. FYI last I heard Frazier Shack now works for Dyncorp in Texas.

Halliburton Can’t Shake Friendly Fire Lawsuit

By JEFF GORMAN – April 19, 2010

(CN) – Halliburton and other U.S. military support contractors cannot escape a lawsuit filed by a woman whose father was gunned down by friendly fire in Iraq, the 5th Circuit ruled.

Kristen Martin claimed her father, Donald Tolfree, relied on the defendants’ assurances that he would be protected by the U.S. military while working in Iraq.

Tolfree was driving a “chase truck,” an empty semi-truck cab which could be used to help a disabled semi in a military convoy.

According to Martin, the convoy commander did not tell the sentry that her father was returning to camp after his truck was no longer needed for the mission.

Tolfree drove back to camp without an escort and died when an American gunner fired 100 rounds into his truck.

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41 Comments

  1. Comment by Elizabeth:

    If this is the same incident, we were told about it in our morning briefing while I was there in Iraq. What we were told was that the KBR worker did not slow at the gate, nor stop when hailed by the gate guard to do so. I seem to recall that we were told that two people were killed…

    • Comment by Ms Sparky:

      Keep in mind the information you received was coming from KBR, the defendants in this case. KBR first told his family he was killed by an IED. Allegedly there seems to be some training issues, as well as communication issues. He was only there a month and there is some question about how he ended up outside the wire to begin with.

    • Comment by justice4all:

      So you heard that two people died and no big deal or did they talk about the incident. Maybe they just “briefly” mentioned it because they didnt want to much talk about. I wonder if Mr. Tolfree (the man shot and killed) really didnt slow at the gate and didnt attempt to stop at the gate or if that is what the “story” was going to be.

      Sounds like the briefing helped to “brief” you on KBR’s side of the story. This is how the big companies start the cover up process.

  2. Comment by Ksniper777:

    Elizabeth, remember you are in Iraq and if i am not mistaken it is a warzone. If you speed up to the gate, ignore warning shots then tragedies will happen. It is sad that this person was killed, but as in all mishaps we all learn valuable lessons. Doesn’t matter if you were there a month or a week if you jobs requires you to drive outside the wire i am sure you will have to do your job. Let be specific here so i am not flamed. In a warzone there are communication issues and training issues. There will always be misinformation and if some one assures you will be protected in a war zone then i am sure KBR will be sued for everything accident and injury that happens in a warzone. Remember if you go to Iraq or Afghanistan you chances of increase a 100 fold. If you remain on a base and never leave it unless for R&R then i guess your chances you won’t get hurt is less but if you drive outside the wire then yes your chances increase for injury or even death. I hope all have learned from this tragedy. Use it to teach others deal with situations that occur not to ride off someone’s loss to promote your quest

    • Comment by Ms Sparky:

      At what point is KBR ever responsible? When is a KBR manager responsible? At what point is the it’s a war zone not an excuse for every damn thing. When you get on the plane in Houston do you just absolve KBR and it’s managers from all responsibility? They are an employer. Not the military. They have responsibilities to it’s employees as an employer.

  3. Comment by Ksniper777:

    Everyone was responsible that day Sparky, where you there? No, alot of folks decision that will affect them for the rest of there lives. You don’t get it, you are blinded by your quest to bring down KBR. Did you ever think about the decisions the gate sentries had to make when they pulled the trigger? What about those who made decisions and have to live with that. No, instead of trying to learn from this incident you choose to glorify your quest. That is exactly what i think, everyone involved that day had a responsiblity and not paint KBR as the sole culprit. You spent you time in the Green Zone, where you ever on the road unless you were headed out on R&R? No, you weren’t so i hope again we all learn a lesson so this tragedy won’t befall another family.

    • Comment by justice4all:

      ksniper-

      Lying about what happened to their loved one killed while working for any company – that is where the quest begins. A quest for the truth!

      If you havent had your brother, sister, husband, wife or parent killed while working for a company like KBR (Dyncorp is just as bad)than you probably dont understand. Do you think all the employees got together on their own and decided to come up with a big lie about the events of that day? NO! KBR attempted to cover up an incident and in the process forget that their are many people who actually saw the incident.

      The people involved came forward and I’m glad because the daughter needed to know that she had been lied to and that KBR tried to cover up her father’s death(the truth can be accepted better than LIES).

      Why would KBR cover up the incident?? Think they didnt want to look bad? Maybe they didnt want the bad media attention? They would lose out on a contract? Could it be that they have no regard for their employees lives or any life for that matter?

      ksniper, I know you always want both sides to be heard but you know the corruption and fraud that goes on with KBR, Dyncorp, Xe, Fluor, Agility, etc… Would you have no problem covering up an employees death? How many deaths have you had to cover up or bend the truth on?

      Hopefully a lesson can be learned from this tragedy although the trend of COVER-UP continues so I wonder what lesson is learned when people get wrongfully KILLED.

      There has to be some accountability and since the deceased employee has no voice I am glad the daughter can speak for him.

      Justice4all

      • Comment by Ksniper777:

        I have never covered up anything justice, but you won’t silence me by asking if i covered up anything it was a tragedy that happened. All things come full circle and by saying the KBR managers are at fault yes there were at fault but by suing the company will that bring your loved ones back? Will monetary gain heal the pain of the families? Don’t paint me as someone without feelings you don’t know me from adam or what i have been though or what i have witness. There will never be a perfect world as some of us try to make it. Alot of questions need to be answered i agree but to demonized an entire company i don’t think so i can speak for myself i do not cover up anything and don’t plan too. Sparky don’t put words in my mouth yes i know the Green zone got hammered and yes i know folks that were injured and killed. I did not blame you yet again you can fire off as you always do when folks don’t fall in line with you. There is always 2 sides to the story and will the whole ever come out? I guess time will tell, there will and has always been corruption and in your sights sparky it is always KBR and will always be. Yes it is a warzone and yes you can get killed or hurt so if you come to Iraq or afghanistan expecting not to get hurt then i am sure if you did not watch the news before coming and expected the military to protect you well that is a different story. Did you ever write about the convoy that the escort took off and left the trucks nope you never did. Those soliders hauled ass when the going got hot. Anyway, i am done commenting on this subject. All we know is a man lost his life, a wife a husband, daughter a father and a grandpa. Don’t paint me as someone who does not care. Thanks

    • Comment by Ms Sparky:

      I’ve never blamed those soldier for doing their jobs. I blamed the KBR managers for not doing theirs. KBR just sent 10′s of thousands of people over like cattle to slaughter thinking full good and well they could hide behind the “it’s a war zone” excuse and just collect the money. No responsibility. Well, the courts are saying differently.

      I’m an electrician not a driver so what does this mean?

      You spent you time in the Green Zone, where you ever on the road unless you were headed out on R&R?

      We were the #1 target for Indirect Fire for years next to Anaconda. When I was there we were getting hammered daily with rockets and mortars. I’ve lost friends to these attacks. So don’t sit there and tell me what’s going on.

      • Comment by TallTexan:

        Good grief … what a load of crock. Sparky your hatred for KBR has blinded you to even the most obvious. KBR IS NOT responsible for this driver having not followed directions at the entry point. Period. ALL drivers are briefed on the “do’s and don’ts” … they ALL know that if they don’t follow instructions/directions that they can and WILL be killed. You want a KBR manager in every truck? You want a manager driving every truck?

        As you said … you’re an electrician. Period. If you can’t do any better than this … not be so ideologically blinded, then stay off the danged computer!

        • Comment by Ms Sparky:

          That is not the information I am getting from drivers who were actually there when Donald Tolfree was killed. Were you there at the time of Donald Tolfree’s death or are you one of the drivers who has reaped the benefits of policy changes because of it and believes “this is how it’s always been!”.

          I guarantee you if there was a manager in every truck, the policies would be different.

  4. Comment by NAMVETCAV6768:

    My sympathy & etc. to families of all who have been killed or wounded but — Hey! It’s a war & absolutely no one can assure one’s safety in a war zone. To me, that fact is simply common sense.

    Friendly fire (I’ve been on both sides of it) & so-called collateral damage are & have always been part of war. Stuff happens & when humans are involved in anything you’re going to have human error.

    Something to think about: I did a year in the boonies of South Vietnam & I always estimated that 1 of every 5 killed/wounded was friendly fire. In recent years, I’ve talked to some on the medical side of things in the Nam & they say 1 of every 4. In other words, some 10,000 of the names on the Nam Memorial Wall could be there because of friendly fire. Any future memorials will likely be the same.

    • Comment by Ms Sparky:

      Thank you for serving. I agree there are no guarantees but the “it’s a war zone” is not an excuse for not doing anything to prevent and protect employees. Employees are not soldiers and are protected by certain labor and safety laws. Companies who intend to make a wind fall on this and other conflicts should be forced to ensure their employees are qualified and trained. It has been proven over and over again KBR did/has not done that. Look at the electrical issues. But they collected billions for it all the same. Not only were they paid to do it wrong, they were paid again to do it right or should I say “less wrong”. That’s quite a scam they got going on!

      • Comment by justice4all:

        Thank you for your service in Vietnam. I agree that the war zone means people get killed (friendly or unfriendly) but it is the cover up, negligence, disregard for basic safety measures and lies to the family, media and American people that make it WRONG!

        Our family is going to our loved ones memorial this memorial day (KIA-Afghanistan) and I hope everyone will remember the sacrifices of those who have died in each and every war.

  5. Ping from Daughter of KBR employee killed by friendly fire in Iraq can sue « Overseas Civilian Contractors:

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  6. Comment by bamadroop:

    It is a tradgedy that about the death and the cover up but something being over looked is that soldier who did what he had to do and will never be the same. I cant imagine finding out that you killed a brave American in a war on terror. I was at Camp Anaconda at the time when this happened in 07 and we heard the same things like He hadn’t been in country long enough to be outside the wire; and he was not yet trained on Entry Controlled Points. After that there was a giant push for everone to be trained on ECP and now its done quarterly even for office clerks who will never be in that situation.

    • Comment by Ms Sparky:

      Thank you for that information!! I have been given the same info. He should not have been outside the wire at all and yet he somehow got there. Reports claim once he realized he was outside (and it was dark) he panicked turned around and headed back toward the check point. Warning flares were fired but he thought he was being shot at by insurgents panicked and sped up. I will never blame the soldier for doing his job. I can’t imagine how badly the soldier felt.

      So…just how did this brand new, untrained, driver get outside the wire? This couldn’t possibly be a KBR management scrwe-up, could it Ksniper? I hope to God they depose that worthless piece of crap Frazier Shack! Maybe criminal charges are in order!

      • Comment by justice4all:

        Did you say that Frazier Shack works for Dyncorp now? Was he KBR management and is he Dyncorp management now? That is a scary thought considering most of Dyncorp’s management have been a bunch of losers over the years (he would fit in perfectly – especially when it comes to deception and cover-up).

        Do tell more about this Shack guy!

      • Comment by D427:

        I worked for TTM/MHE.

        A truck driver who was in the convoy said they guy who was killed was in a bobtail (spare tractor) following the convoy to the gate in case anyone broke down while still on base. For some reason he ended up outside the wire and when he realized his mistake (who knows if he put 2+2 together himself or the CC or another trucker told him over the radio to head back) he sped back to the base. It just got worse from that point.

        Another KBR trucker an O&M on base guy got killed by Austrialian troops at another ECP incident in or around the green zone.

        ECP’s and people pointing guns at you are serious things.

        • Comment by Fonzie:

          I heard that he followed the convoy out the gate so not being familiar with the base layout did’nt realise he was outside the wire.When you leave the base you go to the end of the road and turn right, when he realised the mistake he turned around and headed back but he missed the turning for the base so he turned around again and turned right to go down to the base this would mean that he was coming from the opposite direction from where the convoy had gone so the guards would not think for one minute that he was coming back from the convoy.Again this is what i heard from a third party as i was in FOB Warhorse when we heard about it.

    • Comment by TallTexan:

      ALL drivers are trained on ECP requirements BEFORE they start work. To claim otherwise is either to be misinformed or lying.

  7. Comment by justice4all:

    I too agree about the soldiers, they were doing their job. The KBR manager who wasnt doing their job was probably late to dinner.

    God Bless our Troops!

  8. Comment by Baboo Remembers:

    I would have to agree with Ksnipper about with your odds going up 100% once you step outside the wire. Companies always minimize industrial accidents as incidentals to avoid negative press and potential lawsuits.

    If the company sends an employee to perform a task and an industrial accident occurs due to the employee not having been properly trained to handle the task at hand, some of the liability lies with the employer.

    Claims of this nature are best supported by signed or unsigned documentation by the employee acknowledging he or she did or did not.

    I’m sure they are looking for signed documentation acknowledging the fact this individual attended a training seminar was properly informed of the military protocol and risk associated when entering a compound from outside the wire.

  9. Comment by Shonuf:

    First and foremost Mr. Frazier Shack does not work for DynCorp. Second of all I was the foreman on duty for TTM at the time I sat in my office on the boardwalk when I heard the gunfire. We just thought that it was the military escorts engaging the enemy. Let me explain the procedure of the chase truck. The KBR convoy would go over the escort’s motorpool and get the safety brief from the military. Prior to leaving the escort’s motorpool, sometime a truck would encounter some issues that would keep it from going outside the wire. Then the KBR Convoy Commander would have to call the foreman to get a replacement truck. Well that would cause a dely and we would miss our SP time and would cause other convoys to miss their SP time. There would be sometimes 8 convoys moving that night. This is where the “chase trucks” came into play. The chase truck would go over to the escotr’s motorpool to eliminate having a replacement truck being sent from the other side of the base. All drivers that were pulling chase truck duty, were brief that once the convoy left the escort’s motorpool, that they were to return back to the TTM truck yard. I must say that upper management on the transportation side of the house and the MCT (Movement Control Team) side of the house got relieved of their duties. Prior to hitting the actaul gate the convoy commander has to stop at the MCT shack to check in or out prior to leaving. The MCT personnel then will stand out there and count vehicles to see if it matches the paperwork that was given to them by the Military Convoy Commander, which has the number of personnel and vehicles on it. apparently they didn’t catch the mistake, which caused the friendly fire incident. Paying attention when any kind of brief is given prior to leaving the gate is a must.

    • Comment by LD:

      FS is a Site Manager for Dyn in Afghanistan…just saw him about an hour ago; and you have no idea what happened on the friendly fire incident…very obvious from what you wrote. You’re correct on procedures however: what describe was not the cause of incident.

      • Comment by Shonuf:

        LD,

        For you not to know me and my involvement with the incident. You tell me that I have no idea on what happened, I beg to differ. Were you questioned by all parties that investigated the incident? Did you have to pull all documentations dealing with that convoy going out of the gate?

  10. Comment by Howard:

    Donald Tolfree was my room mate and yes it was KBR to blame. The chase truck was not to leave the wire.(He was never told that) He was new at the time he was killed.( You don’t put a new man as the chase truck always an experienced driver)When he and the other chase truck (new driver)seen that they had went to far and decided to turn around why there was no communication with the gun truck and convoy commander? If you’ve been on any convoy their is always communication between the 2 whether its a truck that breaks down, flat tire, smoking brakes or what ever, there has always been communication between the 2. But this didn’t happen.I blame the escorts for doing a piss poor job because they could not leave the wire behind the escorts(Gun Trucks) because MCT would have stop them and called the bobtail or commander on the radio. Everyone knows that the gun truck is the last vehicle in a convoy. That gun truck watched them turn around and said nothing.Thats why Shack had to send in his resignation because they were going to fire him because as the DPM for transportation their were no policiess on how to enter the ECP if you find yourself separated from your convoy.I was a supervisor and you can bet the day after he was killed KBR decide to come up with one and we had to train every driver on that situation. He should have never been in that truck in the beginning because of his experience and I wish he would have told me before he left the room that day because I would have stopped this. Everybody is doing guess work and hear say. These are the facts so call me on them because every driver at Anaconda knows ICEMAN.

    • Comment by Ms Sparky:

      Howard-Thank you for your first hand information. I have to ask whether or not you have been in touch with Kristin’s attorney Guy Watts? If not, I can assist you.

      Frazier Shack…a classic example of how these KBR managers hang on and carry on. He didn’t resign at that time. KBR whisked him out of country for awhile. I think he ended up in Djibouti. Then of all things he ended up in Kuwait running the electrical grounding and bonding (G&B) crews. He’s not an electrician. This is but one example of how important KBR thought the G&B was. Unfortunately because this information about Donald’s death and anything else Shack has been involved has not been publicized and now he is working for Dyncorp in Afghanistan when I feel he should be in jail for his part in killing Donald.

  11. Comment by Krash:

    First off I’m not defending KBR management in anyway, but from first hand experience as a driver in Iraq it seems to me that their policy was to “fix” after something major happened. Install ballistic blankets after trucks were destroyed and lives lost to IED’s. Install cages and mylar on windows after injuries to drivers from rock throwers, install better armor on the outside of the trucks after numerous lives were lost and major injuries sustained. The list goes on and on. Yes, Halliburton/KBR states that you will be “safe” and “protected” in a war zone . . does anyone else see the irony in that statement???

    The saddest part of this all is that Mr. Tolfree was new in country and there was no way that in two weeks time he could have learned all the TTM convoy procedures to be followed. So in essence who’s to blame . . the convoy commander who wasn’t paying attention to his truck count going out the gate? the TTM Supervisor, or Foreman on duty that night who didn’t know where his “chase” vehicles were at? the escorts who didn’t notice the extra truck coming out the gate behind them? the gate guards for not notifying the escorts that there was an extra vehicle that had turned around? or do we climb the ladder to the people who put the policies in place to start with, which is KBR TTM Management.

    Everyone there that fatal night will have to live with what happened as will his family have to live with the loss of their loved one . . but will a lawsuit here stateside really do any good for those that are still driving convoys in Iraq? Probably not . . .

    I think that it’s time to let Mr. Tolfree rest in peace and let his loved ones get on with their lives. I know his daughter is looking for answers but with all the posts on this site alone her questions should have been answered.

    Changes in policy were made after Mr. Tolfree’s unfortunate death (again), and I’m sure that the policy to “fix” afterwards will continue. After all it is a war zone and you never know what is going to happen next.

    • Comment by Ksniper:

      This will be my last statement concerning this issue. I understand the father cannot voice his opinion nor does anyone know exactly know what happen or what was his actions leading up to his demise. We all can speculate about what happen and offer our opinions. All we know is he lost his life and his family suffers. A day in court will bring a monetary gain and a big pay day for the lawyers. Will it bring closure for the family, hopefully but in reality no it won’t. Losing a father or any family member is a void that will never really be filled. I just pray that the tolfree family finds closure.

  12. Comment by Baboo Remembers:

    Some more folks need to speak up and provide information regarding KBR’s negligent employee training practices.

  13. Comment by Baghdad Bob:

    I was a Convoy Commander for KBR for almost 2 years. The USG holds a pre-convoy brief prior to the convoy departing any secure location. The brief includes all key players, KBR and the USG military escort personnel.
    Regardless how NEW the victim was, it is the responsibility of the USG to ensure all are protected once the convoy exits the secure location. The USG provides adequate communications equipment for the US military personnel therefore the military convoy commander must have uninterrupted communications with his forward and aft escort vehicles. Had the US military maintained proper protocol, the victim would NOT have been alone ANYWHERE side the secure location. There would have been a military escort vehicle with the civilian vehicle as it returned to the installation.
    Your first sentence of the article referring to not pointing the finger to the USG and only to KBR is in error. KBR, Halliburton or whatever company contracted to perform off-base activities, will have in their contract or statement of work, a clause or reference to a USG regulation stating that the US or coalition forces will act as their defense in the event of any hostile act against their personnel.
    Clear cut of the US military escort convoy commander not performing his/her duty and abandoning the driver.
    Any current civilian convoy commander MUST demand the US military do their job. If they do not, then document and immediately send those statements to agencies that will investigate and act accordingly.
    My late condolence to the family.

    • Comment by Ms Sparky:

      Is this how things were done in 2007 when Donald Trolfree was shot by a US Soldier at a check point? Let me say again, I do not blame the soldier who shot Tolfree. To the best of my knowledge he was doing his job. According to another commenter, Tolfree was not even on the manifest. KBR didn’t know who had been killed at the gate until they did a head count.

      By the way, I totally appreciate the drivers who drove outside the wire to make sure I had what I needed to be safe, comfortable and the parts to do my job! Thank you.

  14. Comment by Roger Wilco:

    The checkpoint where Mr. Tolfree died was on a heightened state of alert that night. There had been a number of VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) incidents targeting entrances to major US bases in theater. There were also specific reports of a semi-truck hijacking which had happened that week. The intel reports specified it was possibly rigged with explosives, and targeting CP’s. I was a driver, and gunner for a unit conducting road clearing & IED search with an EOD unit stationed at Anaconda. Our missions were always conducted at night, and we always left thru this checkpoint towards Warhorse, and a nearby road known for enemy activity. What I can say about that specific check point is that the flood lights which lit up the gate faced outwards from the base. The lights blinded anyone coming towards the gate on purpose, Mr Tolfree, probably slowed down, but did not see where the actual gate was, also if there were any type of warning shots made, Mr. Tolfree probably didnt hear them either. Since the warning shots would have been made with an M16 or M4 carbine, and the noise inside the cab, and the truck’s engine muffled the shots. Any other type of pyrotechniques (Flares) used were most likely behind the flood lights, so Mr. Tolfree didnt have a chance to see them either. Even we as a military unit on patrol had to check in with the base coming back, and took precautions entering the base. The units manning the CP’s were constantly under sniper, and small arms fire. On top of that they were also targeted with indirect mortar, and rocket attacks. In order for lethal action to happen, three things need to happen. Visual warnings, Warning shots, and if that fails, protective lethal action can be taken. I am sure the unit manning that CP felt they were under a VBIED attack, and were protecting each other, and everyone who lived at the LSAA. Gob Bless Mr. Tolfree. May he rest in peace. I always wanted to say something about this incident since it was so senseless, and shocked everyone at the base. I hope this gives the family more information about the incident. I am sure they would like to know. May god bless the soldier who pulled the trigger as well. They are not to blame. No one is. This was the perfect storm of details which led to this (lack of words) incident. May his family find consolance one day as well.

    • Comment by Ms Sparky:

      Thank you for sharing that information. I concur, the soldier is not to blame and I am sure he will carry this incident with him forever. I will make sure the family sees this comment. If you have any other information about this incident, names of witnesses, photos that may be helpful, names of those involved that would be helpful. Please don’t leave as a comment. Send us an email by clicking on the “Contact Us” tab above.

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