After a tractor-trailer driver lost control of his big rig in a Wood County, West Virginia (WV), highway work zone, five people suffered injuries that required hospital treatment and a WV Department of Highways worker lost his life. The fatal wreck occurred near the interchange between U.S. 50 and Dutch Ridge Road outside of Parkersburg on June 11, 2015.
Law enforcement authorities did not release details from their investigation into the cause of the deadly crash, but evidence indicating that the semi came to a stop nearly 500 feet from where it first crashed and that the load being carried consisted of liquid suggest that excessive speed and oversteering may have been contributing factors. Stopping a tractor-trailer quickly and under control is always difficult, and doing so becomes even tougher when a payload of liquid sloshes forward, back and side to side.
In all, the out-of-control commercial truck collided with three vehicles before running into a construction vehicle in a closed-off lane. The DOH worker appears to have gotten trapped and crushed between the construction vehicle and another piece of heavy equipment. News reports did not include information on the conditions of the other individuals injured in the crash.
It remains unclear whether charges will be filed against the truck operator or any of the other motorists. While it might seem obvious that the semi driver caused the crash, another person may have created an unsafe situation by cutting off the big rig at the entrance to the construction zone. Whatever happened, the wreck illustrates how important it is for every person behind the wheel of any vehicle to approach and move through work zone cautiously and attentively. Taking just a little extra care can save a life.