A ripped tire tread caused a rollover and fiery collision on Route 152 in Fresno Sunday evening, killing two children and injuring two adults, according to a news article in the Madera Tribune. California Highway Patrol officials said that a 2000 Chevrolet Blazer was traveling west on the highway when the tread on the vehicle’s right rear tire separated from the tire and struck the inside of the wheel well, the article stated.
Once the tire blew, the driver, Micaela Cornelio lost control of the vehicle, causing it to roll over and skid on its roof through the median and into oncoming traffic on the eastbound side of the highway. A Cadillac then rammed into the overturned Blazer, the newspaper reported.
Jonathan Cornelio, 10 and 14-year-old Saira Perez, both passengers in the Blazer, were pronounced dead at the local hospital shortly after the crash. Micaela Cornelio, 33, and another 12-year-old boy who wasn’t identified, both suffered severe injuries and were air-lifted to local hospitals. Another 14-year-old, who was a passenger in the Cadillac, also suffered significant injuries and was taken to the hospital, the article said.
CHP Officer Thomas Isler told the reporter that the driver of the Blazer “may have overcorrected after the tire blew,” causing the vehicle to roll over. He said that after the tread separated causing the tire to blow, the driver of the Blazer swerved and completely lost control. According to another man who was changing his tire on the eastbound shoulder of the highway, the Blazer flipped over multiple times before it skidded into oncoming traffic. Both the Blazer and the Cadillac came to a stop within 100 feet of his parked car, according to the shaken motorist.
This is his quote from the article describing the horrific sight of the crash:
“I heard their tire go. Then it sounded like a bomb went off. When I looked up, it was coming right at me upside down. I jumped for the ditch on the other side of my car.”
He also said he and other good Samaritans helped pull people out of the wreckage and covered the children with blankets. He believes one of the children was probably dead on the scene. Even paramedics, who see these gory sights everyday, described the scene as “pretty chaotic” and emotional especially because there were children involved in the crash. An investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing.
Since the Chevrolet Blazer has such a poor safety record, I’d bet on a lawsuit against the maker of the Blazer, General Motors and/or the tire manufacturer for contributing to these injuries and deaths. There is a long litigation history involving GMC and their Blazer. It has been involved in hundreds of accidents like this one.
The investigation is probably going to find that a combination of factors caused these injuries and deaths. The accident sequence apparently started with a worn out or defective tire. Nothing in the report indicates that the Chevy Blazer was speeding. Possibly the driver over-reacted to the tire blow out. Over-reaction is the usual response of a non-professional driver to a situation like this and is to be expected. Then due to the instability of the 2000 Blazer itself, the driver may never have had a chance to keep the Blazer from rolling over. Once the Chevrolet Blazer began to roll, there was nothing the driver could do but ride it out.
In every catastrophic injury traffic accident, especially rollover accidents, the victims need an early independent, complete investigation to preserve evidence and determine what happened and why.
An independent investigator would start with an examination of the tire by tire experts. Just last month a recall began of defective tires that were imported from China. Over the years we have seen many cases of tire delaminating, tread separation, side wall failures and other defects in the manufacturer and design of tires. It is possible that the tire was excessively worn and/or under-inflated as well. Only an expert analysis of the tire is going to determine what happened to the tire and why.
The investigators would survey the scene, the marks, scuffs and skids, left on the roadway as well as the CHP photos, drawings and reports. Our experts then would go over the Chevrolet Blazer itself. Particular attention would be paid to the tires, the suspension, the roof and the restraint systems.
The 2000 Chevy Blazer is one of the most unstable SUVs on the road. It is poorly designed and built. It has a long history of rollover accidents.
The Blazer also has a history of restraint system failures, meaning defective seat belts. There is a history of Blazer seat belts failing in accident sequences and allowing people to be thrown around inside the SUV and/or being ejected. An expert analysis of the seat belt fibers, buckles, anchors and retractors will indicate use (called “loading”) and any failures.
Accident reconstruction experts would compile all of this information and determine exactly what they believe happened based upon all the evidence. If this was our case, we may perform testing to verify the experts’ opinions. Testing may include recreating the accident and rolling a Blazer to see if we can duplicate what happened. They may do a digital video reconstruction to show the accident sequence to a possible jury.
Bottom line, the injured and the family of the deceased, in order to determine what happened and who was at fault, need to have an immediate independent professional investigation followed by an expert analysis. The vehicle and all of its component parts, especially the tire need to be preserved as evidence. By hiring a law firm that are experts in auto defect litigation, the victims and their families will have all this work done for them, without any upfront costs to them. The best law firms in this field will advance all the costs and expenses until they actually recover money for the injured and the family of the deceased.
I will personally provide a full consultation to any of the involved parties to answer their questions, explain their rights, educate them as to the poor history of the Chevrolet Blazer and discuss their options so that they can make informed choices as to how to proceed. Please call me, John Bisnar of Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, 800-259-6373.
Let’s all pray for the deceased and send our best wishes to the injured and the surviving family members.