One person died and five suffered severe injuries in a 15-passenger van rollover accident, when the van carrying a church group from Ohio blew a tire and overturned on the southbound Interstate 20/59 on the afternoon of Aug. 15. According an article in the Tuscaloosa News. The driver of the van, 45-year-old Diane L. Hill of Euclid, Ohio, died in the crash. The five injured passengers who were transported to an area hospital were: Obadiah Miliner, 68; Patricia Lewis, 62; and Terrell Jackson, 39, Lillian Robinson, 55 and Michael Miliner, 35. All were either members or clergy from the Unity Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio.
The 15-passenger van was reportedly carrying only six people, all headed to an annual church event in Mississippi. The driver of the van reportedly lost control of the vehicle after a tire blew. The van rolled over and hit the median.
My heart goes out to the victims of this horrible accident. I offer my condolences to Hill’s family and my wishes and prayers for a speedy recovery go out to the injured victims.
The unfortunate fact is that this is an accident, which could have been prevented, that statistically it was an accident waiting to happen. Once that tire blew at freeway speeds, Hill had almost no chance to keep the van from rolling.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued several safety alerts about the dangers of the 15-passenger van.
My partner, Brian Chase, a national expert on 15 passenger van rollover crashes, has consistently maintained that these vehicles are dangerously unstable and cause accidents. Among the design flaws of these 15 passenger vans is that they use stadium style seating where passengers in the back are sitting at a slightly higher elevation than people in front of them. This causes the center of gravity in 15 passenger vans to move even higher than when the van is empty. So in the event of a tire blowout, these vans could become unsteady and roll over, especially when the driver is trying to overcorrect or take evasive action.
We’ve also seen a problem with 15 passenger van tires. The NHTSA released a study two years ago which found 74 percent of all 15 passenger vans had tires that not been properly inflated. That increased the propensity of the vehicles to become unstable or roll over – even in normal speeds, road conditions and weather conditions. In comparison, only 39 percent of passenger cars reportedly had such a problem.
This is also a loud reminder for church groups, community centers, colleges, universities and even child care centers that use 15 passenger vans to stop using them. Sometimes, it’s lack of awareness. Sometimes, these organizations tend to use these vans because they are inexpensive transportation. One of the reasons the vans are cheap to buy is because people knowledgeable about their dangerous propensities will not purchase them, making the price for used 15-passenger vans lower than smaller vans.
The Hill family and the injured victims in this Alabama auto accident should consider retaining the services of a nationally renowned 15 passenger van rollover attorney to investigate the case uphold their legal rights. They should at least be consulting with attorneys. Like my partner, nearly every attorney experienced in 15-passenger van litigation will provide free consultations to victims and their families.