A four-vehicle chain reaction in Greeneville, South Carolina (SC), killed two people and sent three to hospitals with injuries. The fatal crash happened on I-395 at around 5:15 am on June 2, 2017.
According to local police, the wreck happened in the Gateway Project construction zone near the Woodruff Road exit from the interstate. A tractor-trailer driver initiated the deadly pileup by failing to stop when coming up on a line of vehicles.
A local TV station offered this description of the wreck: The oncoming “tractor trailer struck the pickup truck, sending it tumbling down the embankment. Next, the tractor trailer hit the car and pushed it under the parked tractor trailer.”
The pickup truck driver survived with serious, bit not life-threatening, injuries, and one of the semi operators was treated at a hospital and released. The two adults in the front seat of the car died at the scene, while a backseat passenger sustained critical injuries.
Law enforcement officials did not disclose whether they would charge the tractor-trailer driver who rear-ended the pickup and continue on to strike the car with any criminal offenses or traffic violations. Nor did investigators offer theories about why the commercial truck driver did not stop.
In its most-comprehensive analysis of why commercial drivers cause wrecks, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) determined that 87 percent of wrecks resulted from driver error. The agency further broke that down into the categories of
- Nonperformance (e.g., failing to brake in time),
- Recognition (e.g., failing to spot crash risks in time to respond appropriately),
- Decision (e.g., choosing the wrong response to a dangerous situation), and
- Performance (e.g., speeding, crossing the center line).
Each of those may have played roles in this deadly Greeneville, SC, tractor-trailer crash. Considering the time of the wreck, investigator should also look in particular at driver fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel, which could both lead to nonperformance, recognition, decision and performance errors.
Staying awake and alert in interstate construction zones is especially important because traffic flows and traffic patterns can change suddenly along those stretches of highway. According to the FMCSA, during 2015, “27 percent of work zone fatal crashes and 11 percent of work zone injury crashes involved at least one large truck.”
My Carolina wrongful death attorney colleagues and I send our heartfelt condolences out to the friends and family members of the people who lost their lives in the car. Whether police bring criminal charges against the tractor-trailer driver or not, evidence of negligence may exist and may support filing insurance claims. Speaking with an experienced Carolina plaintiffs’ attorney will help the injured victims and the loved ones of the deceased victims understand and exercise their legal options for holding the tractor-trailer driver accountable.