Talk about a bad day for big rigs and freeways. Wednesday was one of them! There were three separate incidents involving big rigs on different Los Angeles freeways before noon, one of them fatal, which happened about 6 a.m. when a big rig collided with a tractor trailer on the 210 Freeway. According to a news report in The Los Angeles Times, officials who responded to the scene found both trucks on fire.
One of the truck drivers was pronounced dead on the scene and another was transported to a local hospital with burns. A resident who lives near the freeway and who was interviewed by several media outlets, said he heard a loud explosion when the trucks slammed into one another. The Times article also reports that another big rig was blocking three lanes of traffic on the northbound 405 Freeway close to the 118. Traffic was apparently stalled.
But the incident everyone was talking about Wednesday morning was the “watermelon spill” in Sylmar. A big rig reportedly overturned on the southbound 5 Freeway spilling 50,000 pounds of watermelons on the roadway. Two lanes and an off ramp were closed and traffic was backed up for more than three miles, according to a news report posted on the local CBS Web site. It’s truly a miracle that no one got injured in this accident, given the nature of the spill and the product that was spilled.
This big rig crash also bears an eerie similarity to another that happened last month in Riverside when at least 15 people were injured in a 14-vehicle pileup on the 215 Freeway that was caused by a big rig truck carrying 45,000 pounds of watermelons. According to an article posted on the local NBC Web site, the big rig driver failed to apply the brakes and plowed into traffic in front of him triggering the chain reaction crash involving 22 vehicles.
According to California Highway Patrol officials, the big rig driver was simply not paying attention to the traffic and his loaded vehicle added to the impact of the crash. One vehicle reportedly flipped over and three people were trapped in their cars. Riverside firefighters had to use the Jaws of Life to get them out.
The problem is that this is all too common on California’s highways. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has very specific rules and regulations for truck drivers and the trucking companies that employ them. But there are many instances when the rules are not enforced and are consistently broken. Another example of a tragic big rig fatality in Orange County was when three children in the back of a minivan were killed when a big rig loaded with electronic equipment plowed into their vehicle from behind.
Negligent big rig drivers and their employees – the trucking companies – must be held accountable for their negligence and unethical business practices when they are a fault. Many times it isn’t initially clear who is responsible for a truck accident The trucking companies and their insurance companies are usually very quick to investigate accidents, looking for evidence to prove that their driver was not at fault.
If you have been in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, it may be in your best interest to consult with a personal injury attorney as fast as reasonably possible. Anyone involved in a truck accident would be well served having their attorneys investigate a serious injury accident, as soon as possible.