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Off-Duty Orange County Firefighter Dies After His Toyota Tacoma Veers Off the 241 Toll Road

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A 21-year-old off-duty U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service firefighter died in a crash on the 241 toll road north of the 133 in Irvine, a news article in The Orange County Register reports. The off-duty firefighter, identified as Patrick Michael Henning of Rancho Santa Margarita, was found in his 1996 Toyota Tacoma that had reportedly rolled off the shoulder of the freeway.

Henning had died of injuries sustained during the crash when his truck rolled over several times, California Highway Patrol officials told the Register. Officials are not clear what caused the driver to lose control of the truck or what caused it to flip several times. But officials say that it apparently was a single-vehicle crash and no others were involved. CHP officials are looking for witnesses who may have seen the crash occur.

This is one of those crashes that we see occur every day which could have been caused by any number of factors. It likely could have been a mechanical defect in the vehicle. This vehicle model falls within those models which were part of a federal recall. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Toyota recalled 90,000 1996 Tacoma trucks because of a mechanical defect, which under certain driving conditions, caused the front suspension support to crack leading to failure of the support and causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

There are bound to be unanswered questions in these types of accidents. The victim’s family would be well-advised to maintain possession of the vehicle in an unaltered condition until they can retain an auto defect law firm. The vehicle is the main piece of evidence in any auto defect case and preserving it is absolutely important if the cause of the crash is to be determined.

Hiring a reputed auto defect law firm will usually help families of crash victims facilitate a more thorough and independent investigation rather than leaving it to local agencies, that often do not have the time and resources to go into the details of the crash or pinpoint the cause.

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  • DREW GUENTHER

    I LOVE YOU PAT!. YOU WILL BE MISSED SO MUCH!! YOU WERE SUCH A GREAT GUY! RELAX IN PARADISE BROTHER

  • Anonymous

    Rest in peace brother

  • John Owens

    I was driving from Tucson to Queen Creek on highway 79. I set my cruise control to 65 and enjoyed the ride. I came around a bend in the road, and there was a pickup pulling a trailer a few hundred yards ahead going much slower than 65. I tapped on the break to disengage the cruise control, and slowed down to ~ 50 before I could pass due to oncoming traffic.. Once the road was clear, I accelerated by pushing the resume feature of the cruise control. The truck accelerated, and I was waiting to feel the overdrive gear kick in but it did not. the truck kept accelerating past 90 MPH. I looked down to the gas pedal to see if it was blocked or obstructed and it was not but I could feel gas pedal was flat against the floor. I first tapped on the break but the truck kept speeding up. I turned off the cruise control, but the truck kept speeding up. at close to 100 MPH I put the truck in neutral and tried to get the truck off to the side of the road, but it felt as though the brakes were not working. I got the truck stopped by placing both feet on the brake. The engine was running at ~6000 RPM so I looked at things I thought might be obvious such as an obstruction of the gas pedal, but the pedal was clear and un obstructed. I looked under the truck to look for anything leaking or broken and everything looked fine.. I turned off the engine, let the truck sit a minute, then started it again. I drove Iris home, and went straight to the Toyota dealer. The dealer told me they couldn’t find anything wrong but said the floor mat was obstructing the gas pedal.

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