Five people, including three children, died Saturday afternoon after their 1999 Ford 15-passenger van crashed on the Interstate 69 in Indianapolis. According to a news article in The Star Press newspaper, officials investigating the accident believe that a blown tire started the accident sequence. The three children who died ranged in age from infant to 12 years old and in addition to the five dead, 11 others were injured, the newspaper reported.
The accident happened when the van's left tire blew. The vehicle crossed over the median into the other side and rolled over. No other vehicles were involved. Four people were ejected the report said. Apparently, some of the children were in car seats, but investigators don't know if everyone was wearing his or her seat belt. All victims were transported to local hospitals.
According to another report in The Indianapolis Star, some of the victims came from the Amish community in the Fort Wayne area, not far from where the accident happened. The report also said the van could've had as many as 17 passengers. This accident happened only about 20 miles away from the site of an April 2006 crash between a Taylor university van and a big rig that killed four students, a university employee and injured five other people.
This accident is just yet another tragic example of how 15-passenger vans endanger lives. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has long restricted the use of these vehicles for primary and secondary schools. Time and time again, we've seen the proof that these vehicles are unstable and poorly protect the people in them. This crash in Indianapolis is almost a textbook 15 passenger van crash.
Our previous 15-passenger van cases and our testing of these vans show that they are not only unstable and to easily rollover, especially when there is a tire blow out, but that their seatbelts do not adequately protect passengers in rollover accidents. It is very possible that the ejected passengers were properly seat belted in to the vehicle just prior to the accident.
It is shameful and disturbing that given what is public knowledge about the dangers of 15 passenger vans that many churches, universities and community groups still use theses death traps to transport their members. It's a bigger shame that the NHTSA has done nothing to take these vehicles off the road or make them comply with reasonable safety standards. Just visit these Web sites http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/studies/15PassVans/15PassCustomerAdvisory.htmand http://www.15-passenger-van-accidents.com/recalls.shtml to see how dangerous these vehicles are.
My advice to victims of the crash and the families of the deceased is to retain a personal injury law firm that specializes in 15 passenger van crash litigation. Get an experienced attorney on your side early so you and your family have a fair chance at obtaining proper compensation. Besides appropriately compensating victims, lawsuits act as deterrents to auto manufacturers to stop making these defective vehicles, which would save about 85 lives a year.