The parents of two young girls who were killed in a big rig crash in Madera County last year, have reached a $9 million settlement with the trucking company, the Fresno Bee reported. The accident occurred June 9, 2006 when a concrete pumper truck rear-ended the family car on Highway 41, the article said.
The sisters – Korren Radke, 7, and Chloe Baker, 2, died in the chain reaction crash. The speeding big rig hit the family’s car, which was among several stopped for a disabled vehicle on the freeway. Chloe’s parents – Charles Baker and Amber Allen-Baker — will receive $7.5 million in the wrongful death lawsuit while Korren’s dad, Craig Radke, will get about $1.5 million. Amber is also Korren’s mother.
Another woman, whose car was hit by the big rig after it hit the Bakers’ car, will get $75,000 from the settlement, the newspaper reported. A settlement usually means that the trucking company pays without admitting fault. But California Highway Patrol officials reportedly said that the driver employed by Brundage-Bone Concrete Pumping was driving at an unsafe speed and was not able to stop.
This crash sounds very similar to the one where three Orange County children were killed when a big truck loaded with electronic equipment crashed into the family minivan on the Interstate 5. The Cobles, who bore the brunt of that tragedy, are now safety advocates and spokespersons for the Truck Safety Coalition. Guess how that accident happened. CHP officials said the same thing – that the driver was traveling at unsafe speeds and couldn’t stop in time. He has been charged with vehicular manslaughter.
Speeding big rigs are a huge, dangerous problem on our freeways. Trucking companies must take the responsibility to hire qualified drivers who have been tested for drug use and prior driving violations. Trucking companies must also adhere to rules and hours-of-service regulations spelled out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. These laws dictate that truck drivers must not drive for more than a certain number of hours without a break. A large percentage of big rig accidents are caused by fatigued truck drivers.
We’re pleased that the families involved in this case received some compensation in this wrongful death lawsuit. Certainly, it’s not going to bring back their daughters who died an unnecessary, tragic death. But large settlements and awards in such cases will hopefully act as a deterrent to trucking companies that think about cutting corners and putting profits over business ethics. Courts and personal injury attorneys are pretty much the only recourse for families, who are looking for justice in these wrongful deaths.