Four people, three of them children, lost their lives in a chain-reaction crash in Palm Beach County, Florida (FL), that began when a trailer detached from a semi. The fatal accident occurred just before 6 am, March 17, 2015, on U.S. 27 near the intersection with Willard Smith Road. Two other people sustained serious injuries in the wreck that involved the loose cargo container, a car, a pickup truck and another tractor-trailer.
According to the Sun Sentinel newspaper, the big rig that lost its load started its trip at a sugar mill a little more than a mile from the scene of the deadly accident. Investigators could not immediately determine why the trailer detached or when the trucker noticed the danger. Fog appears to have prevented drivers approaching the container from spotting it in time to avoid collisions. Still, last-second swerving led each of the vehicles later involved in the crash to strike the corners of the trailer.
The car made contact first, followed by the pickup. The man at the wheel of the small truck escaped with his life, but all the people in the car died after the second tractor-trailer rear-ended them and pushed them into a swampy area beside the highway. The second commercial trucker also required hospital treatment for his crash-related injuries.
Any time large debris comes loose from a truck or car, the stage becomes set for a serious accident. Few pieces of debris could be larger than a semi's trailer, and the obstacle did prove fatal for four people in Florida early on St. Patrick's Day. Assigning liability for the deadly incident may take weeks or months. Police and state transportation officials must discover who owned and serviced both the semi and the trailer, who had ultimate responsibility for ensuring the load got properly secured before leaving the sugar mill and whether the trucker committed any errors while on the road that caused the trailer to detach. Every part of the rig and all the connectors must also undergo thorough examinations to detect possible damage or defects.
Our personal injury and wrongful death law firm has taken a decadeslong interest in both crashes caused by commercial trucks and loose trailers. Our experience assures us that almost all such accidents could have been prevented if responsible people had taken just a little extra caution.