Multi-vehicle accidents almost always pose unique challenges for investigating law enforcement officers, especially if no reliable witnesses are present. A three-truck collision in Midland on April 7 appears to present several mysteries for investigators to untangle.
Midland Police and Fire Rescue were called to the scene on I-20 just after 2:45 p.m. The earliest police reports identified a garbage truck, a semi-trailer truck and a pick-up truck as being involved in the collision. The pick-up truck was travelling westbound at a very slow speed in the outside lane, presumably to avoid a significant traffic jam near the Lamesa Overpass. A garbage truck was following the pick-up, also moving at a very slow speed. The semi-trailer truck was also headed west. When the driver sighted the garbage truck, the semi attempted to change lanes to avoid colliding with the garbage truck. The attempted lane change was unsuccessful, and the semi struck the garbage truck in its left rear corner. The initial impact caused the garbage truck to hit the pick-up truck. This second collision caused the garbage truck to spin sideways and roll over onto its top.
Here’s where the mystery begins. Police officers said that they saw the driver of the pick-up and the garbage truck walking near their vehicles, and they appeared to be uninjured. Closer inspection revealed heavy damage to the rear of the pick-up. These two statements appear to be inconsistent with one another. How did the pickup truck suffer significant damage while its driver appeared to be uninjured?
A second mystery is the deaths of the driver and passenger in the semi. Both were pronounced dead at the scene. Yet the semi was supposedly moving at a slow speed when it hit the rear end of the garbage truck. The impact has not been described as severe enough to cause personal injury or death especially to persons in the cab of a large semi-trailer truck.
Police are obligated to investigate all potential causes of the accident, and the first reports of the accident state that their “investigation is ongoing.” No one can predict when this investigation will be completed or whether its findings will solve the mysteries noted above.
A more interesting question is whether any of the parties involved in the crash will finance their own post-accident investigation. Under Texas law, the families of the two persons in the semi (they were, in all likelihood, have been a married couple) may have claims for wrongful death against any party who is liable for the accident. While the semi appears to have precipitated the accident, perhaps by traveling at an excessive speed, the crash may have been the result of faulty maintenance of the semi, perhaps failure to keep the brakes in good order. If the semi is owned by a party other than the two people riding in the truck, the owners of the truck may be liable for faulty maintenance.
If anyone is thinking about pursuing a claim for damages or wrongful death, the services of a knowledgeable and aggressive personal injury lawyer could be very helpful.