Personal Injury Blog

A Police Officer is Charged with DWI following a Fatal Crash in El Paso – Part 2

July 27th, 2016
El Paso, the sixth most populous city.

El Paso, the sixth most populous city. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Tuesday, June 21, 2016, a four-vehicle crash in El Paso, Texas, resulted in one fatality. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) initially suspected that the crash was caused by a 26-year-old off-duty officer, who was driving a 2015 Hyundai at the time of the early morning crash. The officer was arrested and taken to Williamson County Jail on charges of allegedly driving while intoxicated (DWI) and allegedly unlawfully carrying a weapon, according to DPS. The other three vehicles in the accident were 18-wheelers. Dane Rutter, age 56, of Stockdale, Texas, one of the truck drivers, was identified as the deceased.

That National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., provides the following statistics about impaired driving:

  • Approximately 32% of all fatal car crashes involve an intoxicated pedestrian or driver. The source: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
  • The Fatality Analysis Report System (FARS) found that 3,952 drivers who were fatally injured in a collision tested positive for drug involvement.
  • According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), automobile collisions are the leading cause of death among teenagers, and underage drinking by the driver is involved in approximately one-fourth of those crashes.
  • Two out of three people, on average, will be involved in a drunk driving crash in the course of their lifetime, according to the NHTSA.
  • Studies reveal that increased public awareness about the dangers of impaired driving doesn’t seem to be making a significant impact. A 2012 study revealed that 29.1 million people admitted that they have driven an automobile while under the influence of alcohol, which adds up to more people than the population of Texas.
  • In a 2013 survey done by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), about 9.9 million people 12 years old or older (or 3.8% of adolescents and adults) reported driving while under the influence of illicit drugs in the year prior to being surveyed.

See Part 1 and learn more about the dangers of impaired driving in this ongoing series.

–Guest Contributor

A Police Officer is Charged with DWI following a Fatal Crash in El Paso

July 20th, 2016
Photo taken by Reid Sullivan.

Photo taken by Reid Sullivan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Tuesday, June 21, 2016, a four-vehicle crash in El Paso, Texas, resulted in one fatality. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) initially suspected that the crash was caused by a 26-year-old off-duty officer, who was driving a 2015 Hyundai at the time of the early morning crash. The officer was arrested and taken to Williamson County Jail on charges of allegedly driving while intoxicated (DWI) and allegedly unlawfully carrying a weapon, according to DPS. The other three vehicles in the fatal traffic accident were 18-wheelers. Dane Rutter, age 56, of Stockdale, Texas, one of the truck drivers, was identified as the deceased.

According to witnesses, authorities said, the driver of the Hyundai was traveling about 100 miles per hour on Interstate 35 before the collision. He was also reported as weaving between lanes prior to crashing into a big rig.

The Hyundai collided into the rear of an 18-wheeler and then veered into a grassy ditch. A second 18-wheeler driver was trying to dodge the debris on the highway when he lost control, skidded across several lanes, and came to a stop in a grass ditch. His truck then caught fire. A third big rig struck roadway debris and also went up in flames. The injured at the scene were the off-duty officer and his brother along with one of the 18-wheeler drivers. They were transported to Seton Medical Center in Williamson.

Evidence showed that Rutter died as a result of exiting his truck possibly to render aid when the other 18-wheeler that lost control struck him.

The police officer was tracked down by Round Rock police after he left the hospital where he received treatment for his injuries from the crash. There has been no further update on charges against the officer.

Driving while intoxicated is extremely dangerous and is responsible for many deaths in the U.S. every year. Learn more about the dangers of DWI in this ongoing series.

–Guest Contributor

Two Drown in Boating Incidents in Lake Ray Hubbard within 24 Hours – Part 2

July 12th, 2016
English: Before the great catch!

English: Before the great catch! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Between Sunday afternoon, July 3, and Monday afternoon on July 4, two men drowned in boating incidents on Lake Ray Hubbard in Dallas, Texas.

Boating should be undertaken with safety precautions in mind. Any child age 12 and younger is required to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) that has been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard whenever the boat is underway. The following are more boating safety tips:

  • Everyone should wear a life jacket at all times. It is rare for people to have a chance to grab a life jacket before sudden incidents that occur toss them overboard.
  • Boats should never be overloaded.
  • Get a passenger to serve as a lookout, to assist the boat operator.
  • Keep watch for shallow areas and for submerged objects.

Don’t drink alcohol when boating. The following are a few reasons that boating and alcohol don’t mix:

  • When alcohol is involved in a boating accident, the probability of being killed doubles.
  • Operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol is as dangerous as driving an automobile while drinking.
  • It is against the law to boat while intoxicated (BWI). The law is strictly enforced. The penalties for a BWI conviction are similar to penalties for driving while intoxicated. In fact, a BWI conviction can result in driver’s license suspension.

Special care should be taken on a personal watercraft (PWC). The following are safety guidelines:

  • A U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD must be worn by all PWC operators and passengers.
  • Before renting or borrowing a PWC, learn both the rules of the waterway and how to operate the vessel.
  • Maintain a distance of 50 feet from other PWCs, individuals, the shore, vessels, stationary platforms, and other objects unless traveling at idle speed.

See Part 1 of this two-part series for more boating safety tips.

–Guest Contributor

Two Drown in Boating Incidents in Lake Ray Hubbard within 24 Hours

July 6th, 2016
Downeast style charter boat Wreck Valley

Downeast style charter boat Wreck Valley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Between Sunday afternoon, July 3, and Monday afternoon on July 4, two men drowned in boating incidents on Lake Ray Hubbard in Dallas, Texas. At about 1 pm Sunday, a group of people were boating when several went for a swim. One person was having trouble swimming and needed help. A man in the group swam out to the person with a life vest, but he wasn’t wearing one. As they made their way back to the boat, the two were taking turns with the life vest. The people in the boat suddenly noticed that the rescuer had disappeared under the water. Search and rescue crews searched for the man’s body unsuccessfully that day. On Monday afternoon, after rain moved through the area, the body was discovered.

The second deadly boating incident occurred on July 4 at about 2:30 pm. Two people were sailing. A 48-year-old man tried to raise the sail at one point. The wind swung the boom around, striking the man and causing him to fall into the water. The other occupant of the boat tossed out a flotation device, but the victim was unable to reach it. The game warden was contacted, and the victim’s body was discovered a short time later. There was no evidence of foul play, according to police.

There are no further details about the tragic drowning fatalities. Obviously, boating can be very dangerous. Following recommended boating safety tips frequently saves lives. The number one rule is that boaters should always wear a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD). According to experts, most boating fatality victims were not wearing a life jacket or PFD. Extra PFD’s for children and adults should always be carried along on a boating excursion. By law, children ages 12 and under are required to wear a PFD when a boat is underway.

See this continuing series for more boating safety tips.

–Guest Contributor

A Woman and Infant are Killed in a Fiery 18-Wheeler Crash – Part 2

July 1st, 2016
The sleeper berth is the area toward the rear ...

The sleeper berth is the area toward the rear of the truck cab (with the dark tinted windows). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Interstate 30 in Nash, Texas, at about 2:25 pm on Saturday, a fatal 18-wheeler crash occurred near the Kings Highway (FM 989) overpass. Tiffany Provence, age 29, and 3-month-old Daclan Marshall of Hooks, Texas, died in the three-vehicle accident. According to authorities, Shelby Marshall was driving the car Provence and the infant were riding in. She was forced to bring her Chevrolet to a complete stop, due to an accident that was ahead on FM 2148. Another Chevrolet, a Tahoe, was also stopped in front of Marshall’s car. The 63-year-old driver of an 18-wheeler failed to stop. The Del Rio, Texas, man in the big rig rear-ended Marshall’s vehicle. The car then struck the Tahoe and burst into flames. The truck driver rescued Shelby but was unable to help Provence or the infant, due to the intense heat of the fire. Marshall’s Chevrolet was completely consumed before firefighters could arrive and extinguish the flames. The occupants of the Tahoe were treated for injuries at a local hospital and released.

The following is another of the common causes of 18-wheeler collisions, according to research:

Traffic Violations. With average-sized vehicles, this category could be called “minor” traffic violations. Where 18-wheelers are concerned, however, rarely does a collision of any kind rank as “minor.” Between the weight of a big rig that creates greater force in a collision and the much longer stopping distance, what would otherwise be a simple rear-end collision, for instance, can become a traffic fatality. Motorists should be aware of the danger of being in a collision with an 18-wheeler. For instance, it can be extremely dangerous to pull in front of an 18-wheeler and then abruptly slow down. The truck driver isn’t able to come to a stop as quickly, and a crash could be disastrous.

Learn more about the common causes of 18-wheeler collisions in Part 1 of this continuing series.

–Guest Contributor

A Woman and Infant are Killed in a Fiery 18-Wheeler Crash

June 22nd, 2016
English: Homestead Air Reserve Base: Trucks be...

English: Homestead Air Reserve Base: Trucks began arriving here to pre-position water, military rations, ice and tarps for the post-hurricane relief effort. The trucks, which began arriving Oct. 20, have delivered supplies from Key West to northern Miami-Dade County since the storm passed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Interstate 30 in Nash, Texas, at about 2:25 pm on Saturday, a fatal 18-wheeler crash occurred near the Kings Highway (FM 989) overpass. Tiffany Provence, age 29, and 3-month-old Daclan Marshall of Hooks, Texas, died in the three-vehicle accident. According to authorities, Shelby Marshall was driving the car Provence and the infant were riding in. She was forced to bring her Chevrolet to a complete stop, due to an accident that was ahead on FM 2148. Another Chevrolet, a Tahoe, was also stopped in front of Marshall’s car. The 63-year-old driver of an 18-wheeler failed to stop. The Del Rio, Texas, man in the big rig rear-ended Marshall’s vehicle. The car then struck the Tahoe and burst into flames. The truck driver rescued Shelby but was unable to help Provence or the infant, due to the intense heat of the fire. Marshall’s Chevrolet was completely consumed before firefighters could arrive and extinguish the flames. The occupants of the Tahoe were treated for injuries at a local hospital and released.

This tragic collision is still under investigation. The deadly incident brings to light the dangers of big rigs on our roadways, when they either don’t operator properly or drivers fail to maintain proper control in traffic. The cause of the truck driver being involved in this particular crash has not been established.

The following are some of the common causes of 18-wheeler collisions, according to research:

Distracted driving. Anything that diverts a driver’s attention away from the task of driving results in distracted driving. Because 18-wheelers weigh around 20 times more than average vehicles, it is incredibly hazardous for commercial truck drivers to drive while distracted.

Learn more about the common causes of 18-wheeler collisions in this ongoing series.

–Guest Contributor

2 Women Die in a Fiery 7-Vehicle Crash in El Paso, Texas – Part 4

June 17th, 2016
Photo by Ivan Kozlov

Photo by Ivan Kozlov

On Monday, May 23, 2016, in El Paso, Texas, a seven-vehicle crash occurred on Interstate 10. Two women, sisters, died in the crash. According to authorities, eastbound traffic was slowing in the area when an 18-wheeler came along. The 27-year-old driver of the big rig struck several cars, after he allegedly failed to control his speed. Two vehicles rolled over, and the five occupants were transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. One vehicle was struck from behind by the 18-wheeler and became pinned underneath. The car burst into flames; the two occupants were the ones who died in the pileup.

The following is more information about contributing factors in 18-wheeler collisions:

  • Federal trucking regulations address the issue of drivers using controlled substances or drinking alcohol when driving. The detailed laws include timing requirements. The goal is to keep impaired truck drivers off of our roadways. Federal laws require drivers to be tested following accidents, to determine whether there was any type of impairment. In addition to alcohol and illegal drugs impacting driving, prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines can have an effect on a trucker’s driving capabilities.
  • Large trucks weighed down with a load are dangerous, and drivers who are unqualified, untrained, and unsupervised should not be behind the wheel. There are specific requirements regarding the hiring, training, and supervising of commercial truck drivers. An important way of avoiding 18-wheeler accidents is ensuring that the drivers are trained and qualified.
  • There are weight limits for big rigs, and overloaded trailers can put others at risk on our roadways. In addition to increasing the force of impact, overloaded trucks could overstress the vehicle’s capabilities, contributing to accidents.

Learn more in Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this four-part series.

–Guest Contributor

2 Women Die in a Fiery 7-Vehicle Crash in El Paso, Texas – Part 3

June 10th, 2016
Veronica538 at work as truckdriver

Veronica538 at work as truckdriver (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Monday, May 23, 2016, in El Paso, Texas, a seven-vehicle crash occurred on Interstate 10. Two women, sisters, died in the crash. According to authorities, eastbound traffic was slowing in the area when an 18-wheeler came along. The 27-year-old driver of the big rig struck several cars, after he allegedly failed to control his speed. Two vehicles rolled over, and the five occupants were transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. One vehicle was struck from behind by the 18-wheeler and became pinned underneath. The car burst into flames; the two occupants were the ones who died in the pileup.

The following is information about contributing factors in 18-wheeler collisions:

  • Drivers of 18-wheelers must allow adequate stopping distances. Any type of tail-gating is extremely dangerous, since big rigs travel much greater distances in the process of coming to a stop.
  • Eighteen-wheeler truck drivers have a responsibility to be vigilant about watching blind spots. It’s important that the commercial drivers use extra care because drivers of average-sized vehicles often don’t know where a truck driver’s blind spots are. When changing lanes or making other maneuvers that could harm someone in the blind spot, truck drivers must use great care.
  • There are limits to how much commercial trucks can weigh. When a truck is overloaded, the force of impact and stopping distance are both increased, making the vehicle even more dangerous on our roadways. When laws aren’t followed with relation to truck weight and size, these issues can become contributing factors in a collision.

Learn more in Part 1, Part 2, and this ongoing series.

–Guest Contributor

2 Women Die in a Fiery 7-Vehicle Crash in El Paso, Texas – Part 2

June 3rd, 2016
View of a truck's interior dashboard.

View of a truck’s interior dashboard. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Monday, May 23, 2016, in El Paso, Texas, a seven-vehicle crash occurred on Interstate 10. Two women, sisters, died in the crash. According to authorities, eastbound traffic was slowing in the area when an 18-wheeler came along. The 27-year-old driver of the big rig struck several cars, after he allegedly failed to control his speed. Two vehicles rolled over, and the five occupants were transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. One vehicle was struck from behind by the 18-wheeler and became pinned underneath. The car burst into flames; the two occupants were the ones who died in the pileup.

The following is information about contributing factors in 18-wheeler collisions:

More than 750 people are killed and 20,000 injured annually because of commercial vehicle drivers who drive while fatigued, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Federal regulations limit the amount of time a commercial driver can be on the road, but it is typical for such regulations to be ignored. Drivers are under intense pressure to make deliveries as quickly as possible. Driving while fatigued is comparable to driving while intoxicated.

There are laws regulating the safety of commercial trucks. Regular inspections are required. Before each trip, drivers are required to inspect their vehicle, including the following:

  • Brake conditions
  • Tire pressure
  • Tire condition
  • Brake fluids
  • Engine fluids
  • Lights
  • Turn signals
  • Mirrors must be properly adjusted

If equipment failure occurs in an 18-wheeler traveling 65 miles per hour, the results can be devastating.

Learn more in Part 1 and this ongoing series.

–Guest Contributor

2 Women Die in a Fiery 7-Vehicle Crash in El Paso, Texas

June 3rd, 2016
English: El Paso Skyline from the north.

English: El Paso Skyline from the north. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Monday, May 23, 2016, in El Paso, Texas, a seven-vehicle crash occurred on Interstate 10. Two women, sisters, died in the crash. According to authorities, eastbound traffic was slowing in the area when an 18-wheeler came along. The 27-year-old driver of the big rig struck several cars, after he allegedly failed to control his speed. Two vehicles rolled over, and the five occupants were transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. One vehicle was struck from behind by the 18-wheeler and became pinned underneath. The car burst into flames; the two occupants were the ones who died in the pileup.

As of Wednesday, no charges have been filed in the case. The incident is still under investigation. The official cause of the crash has not been announced.

When truck drivers of large commercial vehicles fail to maintain proper speed, devastation often follows. Commercial drivers of large commercial trucks have a huge responsibility. An 18-wheeler that’s out of control is a much greater threat to others on the roads than a normal sized vehicle.

Research from 2014 shows that the following are the top five factors that contributed to fatal vehicle crashes in Texas that year:

  • Failure to control speed was the number one cause, with 125,126 collisions resulting in 452 deaths.
  • Distracted driving was the second leading cause of death, with 91,833 collisions and 346 deaths.
  • Failure to stay on a single lane of the roadway was a factor in 520 fatalities and 32,937 crashes.
  • Making unsafe lane changes was a factor in 54 deaths and 29,571 collisions.
  • Failure to yield the right-of-way when making a left turn was a factor in 87 Texas fatalities in 28,713 collisions.

Learn more in this ongoing series.

–Guest Contributor