A family of four died after an out-of-control tractor-trailer ran across the median of I-77 in West Virginia and struck their vehicle. The fatal crash happened in the Camp Creek community of Mercer County, WV, at about 5:30 pm on April 13, 2017.
County law enforcement authorities could not explain why the semi operator ran out of control. The commercial truck driver sustained life-threatening injuries when his rig flipped over and he was thrown from the cab. He was unable to answer questions after being airlifted to the hospital.
The deceased victims were a mother, father, and their two school-age children. Multiple news outlets identified the adults who lost their lives as Jack and Grace Gilley of Rowan County, North Carolina (NC).
Whenever the driver of a tractor-trailer fails to keep his or her big rig under control, lives are placed at risk. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), during 2015, the last year for which complete data are available, 4,050 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes and another 87,000 large trucks were involved in injury crashes. Those figures are actually underreports of deadly and injurious wrecks involving commercial trucks because they only represent the heaviest vehicles licensed to transport goods across state lines.
As for why semis and 18-wheelers crash, a study published by the FMCSA in 2007 revealed that the four most-common reasons were
- Nonperformance, which includes avoidable and unavoidable errors like falling asleep at the wheel and suffering a medical emergency;
- Recognition, which actually means “not recognizing crash risks” due to distraction or failing to keep a proper lookout;
- Decision, which means the truck driver made a poor or unsafe decision to, for example, exceed the speed limit, drive too fast for road and weather conditions, change lanes without checking blind spots or follow other vehicles too closely; and
- Performance, which indicates the driver panicked or overcorrected his or steering.
When a commercial truck driver does act negligently or recklessly behind the wheel, the types of wreck most likely to occur, according to the FMCSA, are
- Running out of the travel lane, either into another lane or off the road (32 percent)
- Vehicle loss of control (29 percent)
My Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send our deepest condolences out to the friends and family of the people from North Carolina who died in the crash on I-77 in Mercer County, WV. Most likely, any wrongful death action against anegligent or reckless truck driver will need to be filed in West Virginia. Given that the family is from North Carolina, it will be helpful to have lawyers that are licensed in both of these states, and our firm has lawyers who are license to practice in North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, South Carolina and Kentucky.