A truck driver was arrested in Colorado Thursday for suspicion of multiple counts of vehicular homicide following a fiery 28 vehicle pileup that left four people dead and at least six other people injured.
Fiery Truck Accident Melts Roadway and Metal
According to reports, the crash occurred 4:50 pm Thursday on Interstate 70 west of Denver and is being described as one of the “worst accidents” in Lakewood history.
A preliminary investigation and witness reports suggest the 23-year-old truck driver, Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos of Texas, was traveling down a hill when he slammed into several vehicles that had slowed down due to a previous crash. The initial collision resulted in a chain of other crashes as well as a diesel fuel spill.
The resulting fire reached an estimated 2,500-degrees Fahrenheit and was so intense that it actually melted the roadway as well as metal off cars. It took roughly five hours to extinguish the flames, and investigators could not get onto scene until around 10 pm. Damage to vehicles was so severe that law enforcement officials have been unable to identify the make and models of some of the cars.
Police do not suspected alcohol or drugs to be a factor in the crash. Instead, investigators are looking into whether Aguilera-Mederos may have lost control of the truck, experienced a brake failure, or had some other mechanical issue that prevented the 18-wheeler from stopping.
Aguilera-Mederos was arrested on suspicion of multiple counts of vehicular homicide and is scheduled to appear in court on Saturday for an advisement hearing.
What are the Most Common Causes of Trucking Accidents?
Trucking accidents make up some of the most catastrophic and grisly accidents on the road. The immense size and weight of these vehicles means normal passenger vehicles stand little chance when it comes to a collision. Because of this, commercial trucks and their drivers are more strictly regulated that the average passenger vehicle. Still, even the stiffest regulations cannot prevent negligent behavior.
Among the most common causes of trucking accidents are:
- Driver Fatigue – Driver fatigue is a more common occurrence than many people would like to believe. Long distance and hours with little rest as driver struggle to meet deadlines mean increased risks to the truck driver and other motorists alike. Fatigue can result in loss of concentration, slowed reaction, poor coordination, and even falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Alcohol and Drugs – Alcohol and drugs are contributing factors in thousands of vehicle collisions every year. The trucking industry is no different. Remember, its not only illicit drugs that can result in an increased risk of crash. Many prescription drugs advise against driving after taking.
- Poor Training or Maintenance – As previously mentioned, large trucks and their drivers are more heavily regulated than the average motorist. Companies are required to provide truck drivers adequate training and to take measure to ensure their fleet of vehicles are in top condition. However, there are times when a company may seek to cut corners in order to preserve or boost profits, resulting in poorly trained drivers and dangerously defective vehicles.
- Distracted Driving – Over the course of driving long distances, drivers can get board and may even risk distracted driving as a way keep themselves occupied. Using phones is among the most common. Making a phone call, texting, or checking social media may not seem dangerous when your traveling along a straight stretch of highway, but it is. A truck driver taking his eyes of the road for even a fraction of a second can result in a catastrophic crash and life altering injuries and even death.
- Reckless Driver – Reckless driving includes all those unsavory driving habits, such as speeding, tailgating, unsafe passing, and disregarding traffic signals and signs. The dangers of speeding and reckless driving behaviors can often be overshadowed by the worry of deadlines, leading to collisions that were entirely preventable.
Trucking Accident Statistics
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016:
- An estimated 433,000 police-reported traffic crashes occurred involving large trucks
- 4,317 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks
- Large trucks accounted for eight percent of all vehicles involved in fatal accidents
- An estimated 116,000 people sustained injuries in crashes involving large trucks
- Of the fatalities that occurred in large truck crashes in 2015, 84 percent were occupants of other vehicles or non-occupants, such as pedestrians or bicyclists
- About one out of every four fatal crashes involving a large truck occurs on an interstate highway
- States with the most fatalities in traffic crashes involving large trucks:
- Texas — 556
- California — 322
- Florida — 293
- Georgia — 179
- Illinois – 146
Injured in a Trucking Accident? Call Thomas J. Henry
If you or a loved one have suffered a serious injury after being involved in an 18-wheeler accident, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. Our experienced commercial trucking injury attorneys are available to respond to semi-truck accidents at any hour, day or night. Our lawyers understand that the immediate acquisition of evidence is paramount to understanding how the accident occurred. We will take immediate action on your case.
Our firm has offices in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston, serving clients across Texas and nationwide. Remember, your choice does matter. Contact us today for a free legal consultation. Attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends.