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9 People Confirmed Dead in NE Oklahoma Tractor-Trailer Accident

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As national headlines focus on the passing of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, a tragedy of worse proportion happened in Oklahoma today. According to Newsok.com, 9 people are now confirmed dead after a tractor-trailer slammed into a line carss stopped by an earlier accident involving a tractor-trailer. The accident happened on the Will Rogers Turnpike northeast of Miami

According to the Highway Patrol and newsok.com,

Investigators don’t believe the driver of the tractor-trailer tried to stop before the crash that left eight adults and one child dead, Brown said. The speed limit in the area is 75 mph. A criminal investigation was being conducted, as is routine after a fatal accident, and blood was drawn from the truck driver.

This is a tragic accident on a hot sunny day in Oklahoma. The pictures of dangled metal, fluids and crushed cars on the Oklahoma is astounding and I can simply say my prayers are with the deceased and injured. At a normal time, this might garner national headlines. However, with Michael Jackson’s passing, sadly that won’t be the case.

I hope at some point the issues associated with interstate truck driving come more to the public light. I have no idea of why this driver failed to even slow down, but in my experience in litigating these types of incidents, often times these truck drivers are pushed to drive fast and too many hours by various trucking companies. While this blog is reporting of this tragic accident, I will be discussing in the near future various issues relating to trucking companies and the secrets they don’t won’t the public to know.

UPDATE: The AP is reporting that there are two survivors of the above Oklahoma traffic wreck that killed nine people. A 12 year old young lady and 35 year old woman are listed in critical condition according to the article. As a father of three girls this is truly heart wrenching so please keep these two people in your prayers.

I also wanted to point out that the article says that the

police said they will give prosecutors the results of their investigation to decide whether to bring any charges after the chain-reaction crash on the turnpike that saw some victims pinned in the wreckage for up to nine hours.

Keep in mind that criminal charges don’t equate to civil charges. Irregardless of whether criminal charges are filed their is obviously gross negligence on the part of the truck driver. As an attorney who actively works in trucking litigaton, one can only wonder about the circumstantial facts regarding the age of the trucker and the liability the trucking company may have.

19 Comments

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  1. Grayson says:
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    Hours later, I am still in shock over the vast number of intertwined vehicles; seemingly fused together as one, and strewn wreckage over what seemed like hundreds of yards of mayhem. We passed the tragic accident on the other side of the interstate as we were driving our daughter to from Joplin to the Tulsa Airport. Obviously she missed her flight but, after seeing the devestating news about the accident, Delta was kind enough to purchase her a ticket for her on United. I am heartbroken for the driver of the rig, whom I am sure wishes he had not survived. I am not a terribly religious person, but after seeing such a life altering tragic even that will affect so many families, I wanted to investigate the updated information so I can keep all these families in my thoughts and prayers. I am an RN in Springfield at St. Mercy Hospital, and my fiance is in transportation as a supervisor. I know they are currently revising the trucking laws “on paper”, but in this economy, I believe the drivers are pressured “off the record” to press miles and speed to the max. This is one of those things you see throughout your lifetime that sticks with you indefinitely. I will hug my daughters tighter and do anything I can for the families involved in yesterday’s tradgedy.

  2. mikeeeee says:
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    jeremy.

    your hunches are probably correct but, let’s se how the facts unfold.

  3. Truck Driver says:
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    That accident is very bad , but don’t convict all drivers and trucking companies just yet . I’ve benn driving for a Joplin, Month. Company for 14 years and if you have secrets that I don’t know about please let me know what they are .

  4. Tracij29 says:
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    I saw the accident from the other side of the highway just moments after impact. At the time I had no idea how many cars were under that truck. I even saw the truck driver coming out of his rig. I could barely sleep last night thinking about this and then today find out that 2 of the deceased are from the town I used to live in in Texas. One is only 7 years old. :(

  5. Sandra says:
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    my family….my aunt & uncle and 12 year old cousin were in this accident….they were on their way to visit us in chicago…my 12 year cousin is currently in critical condition…my aunt and uncle sadly did not make it…my aunt was a saint….she would take her shirt off her back for anyone….all i ask is that if your 76 years please don’t drive especially not a semi trailer….i can’t help and be angry at the truck driver…my mom is heart broken over losing her sister and brother in law…as is the whole family…u can not understand the pain. please pray for my cousin and family..may god rest their souls…

  6. loner says:
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    i work for the company and believe that it was a honest accident the company trys to obay all laws but driveing the road dose get to you my prayers and heart goes to the fammily of the victoms and i am a driver

  7. Sandra says:
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    DEAR LONER,

    DRIVING THE ROAD GETS TO U? R U SERIOUS AND U DON’T THINK LOSING 2 LOVED ONES NOT TO MENTION COUNTLESS OTHERS THAT WERE KILLED CAN GET TO SOMEONE? I DON’T BELIEVE IT WAS AN HONEST ACCIDENT I BELIEVE THAT THE COMPANY IS LIABLE A 76 YR OLD MAN DRIVING A SEMI TRUCK THAT ENDED IN MULTIPLE DEATHS? KEEP TELLING UR SELF THAT SO THAT U CAN SLEEP AT NIGHT MEANWHILE MY FATHER IS IN THE ICU B/C OF OTHER HEALTH ISSUES AND NOW MY FAMILY AND I NOT ONLY HAVE TO COPE WITH MY FATHER BEING VERY ILL BUT WITH THE DEATHS OF 2 OF OUR LOVED ONES AND MY 12 YR OLD COUSIN WHO WILL MISS OUT ON HER PARENTS. NOW TELL ME IF THAT WOULDN’T GET TO U MORE THAN DRIVING. UR PRAYER AND HEART? I’M SORRY BUT THAT MEANS NOTHING….I LOST MY AUNT AND UNCLE WHOM I LOVED DEARLY…THEY WERE ON THERE WAY UP TO CHICAGO TO VISIT US…THEY NEVER MADE IT…I WAS SOO HAPPY THAT THEY WERE COMING TO VISIT…THEY CALLED US AT NOON TO TELL US THEY EXPECTED TO ARRIVE ABOUT 9 OR 10….WE WAITED BUT ALL WE GOT WAS A CALL FROM THE HOSPITAL TELLING US THAT THERE WAS A TERRIBLE ACCIDENT AND MY AUNT AND UNCLE DIDN’T MAKE IT THRU AND MY 12 YR OLD COUSIN WAS FIGHTING FOR HER LIFE…SLEEP ON THAT.

  8. thinkmarley says:
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    Dear Sandra,
    I am so sorry for your family; I have not been able to stop worrying for this little girl. I hope and pray to hear that she has pulled through this.I hope and pray for your family. A lot of Oklahomans are praying for her and your family. I had family members involved as well but they survived; one being my twelve year old daughter. I dont understand this tragic event but I hurt so much for your family and I pray so hard for all of you.

  9. Sandra says:
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    thank you thinkmarley….please keep my family in your prayers…this is very hard. we’ve lost extremely special people in our lives and i don’t know how long it will take my family to recover if ever.

  10. VCDaedalus says:
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    I don’t believe this man would have been driving if he’d had any other choice. He may have been supporting an elderly wife or even children with this income, and paying for needed medical expenses. Driving a truck may be all he knows how to do, and there aren’t many employment opportunities available to anyone, let alone a 76-year-old. He wasn’t driving for bingo money, that’s for sure.

    None of this will factor in any liability trial. What’s more, if he had a medical condition that contributed to the this accident, it may have arisen after he was medically certified and hired.

    An almost identical accident happened in St. Louis almost one year ago! In that case, the driver was younger but was reaching for a cell phone. That’s only begun to be litigated.

  11. tracy b says:
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    I am very sorry to hear of all this, this was a horrific accident. The same thing happened to me three years ago I was at a dead stop and was rear ended by a semi truck she did not stop,I was at the end of an 8 car line up stopped for raod construction. I was in the ICU for three weeks and still have live life long injuries, Please be aware that the Trucking company may file for BK to get out of this mess, they did that with me….Very unethical and little to NO Value or morals for the lifes that have been ruined by this event.
    I wish everyone who is invloved that survived the best and my heart goes out to those suffering loss!!!!

  12. VCDaedalus says:
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    What is BK? I’m very sorry for your continued injuries–it’s what I also dread in any accident.

  13. Mike Bryant says:
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    This sounds like a horrific event. Hopefully, the injured will heal quickly and the grieving families will be comforted. Thanks for bring this information to our attention Jeremy. It may take a while and a lot of investigation to get to the bottom of all that happened here.

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    There was any comment by VCDaedalus that I felt the need to clear up. He stated and/or implied that the age of the driver would not factor in at a liability trial. While we appreciate your comment the fact is that the age of the driver, depending if he had preexisting medical conditions the company knew about may factor heavily in any potential litigation.

    As for Sandra and thinkmarley we are deeply sorry for your losses and wish those you know who were injured in this accident a speedy recovery.

  15. Dan Little says:
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    Dear Sir,
    We are sorry that anyone was lost in an accident such as this, but the facts are, in a truck vs car wreck, people die.
    Safety is always stressed within the trucking industry, and to condem a whole industry because of this wreck is wrong.
    The OOU Inc is a drivers association with members in all 50 states as well as members within the armed forces serving overseas.
    I deal with trucking Co’s daily and can assure you, as a whole drivers within the commerical industry are very serious about safety.
    The average driver goes thru more than 10 times the safety checks as the average airline pilot.
    Also trucking co’s are subject to safety audits at any given time, by both federal and state DOT enforcement.
    Since the CDL came into being, safety has moved to top of everyone’s list.
    And if you really want to dig into car vs truck wrecks nationwide on a case by case basis, you will find that over 85% are caused by the car driver being at fault.
    If you would like to talk about this more please feel free to email me direct at
    dlittle@owneroperatorsunited.org

    Thank You
    Dan Little
    Pres / Owner-Operators United Inc.
    America’s fastest growing drivers association.

  16. L D T says:
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    Mr. Thurman: Has OK had any sort of vehicle collisions on this scale before? If so, then, like most other lawyers, those who won, also took a very nice percentage of the settlement away from the victims. That is SOP.

    Lawyers and their clients seem to see trucking companies as a “deep pockets” means to make their life’s fortune.

    Why not stop trying this case before the police reports are finalized? Stop trying to prejudice the public before this matter can possibly get to the courts?

    You don’t know the truck driver well enough to speculate about his health or capabilities. Why persecute him before you prosecute him?

    In the USA, we are presumed innocent until we are PROVEN guilty.

    It is lawyers like you that give lawyers across the country a bad name.

    LDT
    ldt@npgcable.com
    L & D Transportation
    California

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    LDT:

    Thank for your comments as they are always appreciated. From your signature line it appears you are in the transportation business so I would suspect that you would be protective of your fellow drivers. That’s okay in my book. What is not okay is the accusatory statements. You first say that in the USA we are presumed innocent until proven guilty. While you may think the truck driver did nothing wrong, the facts clearly show “guilty” or in the civil sense negligent as the man plowed into a line of stalled cars.

    As I have stated on my other blogs, Oklahoma Highway Patrolmen believe this to be one of the deadliest, if not the deadliest accident to occur in Oklahoma. Further, this blog is informative so we will all speculate as to the potential causes. Maybe instead of focusing on this poor truck driver, you should be reading the above posts on the one’s who lost loved, therein lies true persecution.

    Now, if you follow the news on this, if you have read the other blog posts on this subject you will know the following: 1) The driver was 76 years old; 2) The driver did not even slow or attempt to stop; 3) The driver was speeding; 4) The district attorney has stated that it looks like charges may be filed from the preliminary investigation; 5) 10 people were killed with another 12 year old critically injured; and 6) families lives have changed forever. Maybe our focus should be on what can be done to help these families.

    Also, you use the proverbial “evil lawyer” “deep pockets” vernacular perpetuated in our society by big insurance. You claim the victims lost their money to these evil lawyers. Let me respond in kind to your argument. I’m sure since you’re a trucker you are always willing to contract for less and in fact, why don’t you start agreeing to transport goods across interstate lines for free. Wouldn’t you agree that by doing so the costs associated with those good would be cheaper and in fact, consumers would save tons of money? Or how about this, let’s cut what you currently charge which makes your profit nil and then in turn forces you to lay off employees. Oh but wait, I’m sure you have employees to pay and a family to feed so my above comments would be unreasonable.

    Now with the above let’s talk about the legal profession. First, you claim that the lawyers take the victims money. That is incorrect; the lawyer incurs tens of thousands of dollars in expenses paying for expert’s et al with no guarantee of recovery. The lawyer also spends thousands of hours working these difficult cases with no guarantee of recovery. The clients are rarely rich and cannot afford to pay a lawyer hourly. So how should a lawyer earn money? Should we forgo every cent? In fact, are you also willing to limit the unlimited resources of the insurance companies and/or trucking companies who have hoards of lawyers ready to litigate at a minutes’ notice. Or maybe you can just get the trucking company and/or insurance company to pay the true value of a claim so that the hurt do not need a lawyer. Are we to believe that they would actually do such a thing? Fact is, they do not, they would pay everyone of these victims the minimal amount if possible. The simple fact is, the lawyer is the only person these injured victims have who can protect their interests.

  18. Kirsten says:
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    To anyone commenting on this post, questioning the ethics or intentions of its author… You could not be more wrong. Yes, I am aware of the stigma that follows attorneys, especially the ones in this particular specialty. It has become a running joke in our society to lay the blame in the laps of the attorneys who prosecute these controversial issues. But as a citizen I have to wonder, why should the attorneys shoulder the blame for a decision that must be either willingly agreed to by both parties, or settled by the justice system that we as a nation have set in place? This particular attorney, for anyone who knows him personally, is one of the most honest, caring, generous, and Christian men you could ever hope to have the privilege of meeting. Bottom line… He has a job to do, and he does it well. Attorneys are trained to negotiate and maneuver within a system that most people know very little about. Whether it be something small or a tragic instance as this accident, attorneys know the language, the statutes, and the process of the law. They are there to help those who do not know these things.

    This particular attorney is my brother. He speaks and writes passionately about things that are meaningful to him, especially his career. It is tragic that this accident happened and took so many lives. Jeremy has a family, a wife and three daughters, and many others that he loves. He feels so strongly about these things, knowing in the back of his mind that at any moment, it could be himself or any one of us as a victim. The victims of these horrible accidents or the families they leave behind do not ask to be involved. They are wronged, whether intentionally or not, and therefore deserve some compensation, if for no other reason than to offset the unexpected costs associated with these tragedies. Instead of focusing on the attornies who speak publicly about justice with such fervor and passion, let us focus on the victims, their families, and the countless others effected by such a horrific accident. And let us allow those who are experienced with such tragedies to do their jobs.

  19. michele says:
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    MY sincere prayers to the families in this horrific accident. MY daughter was killed in a tractor trailer related accident 5 months ago so I can certainly identify with you. However, the investigation is not always done right. In my daughters case no one saw the accident involving two tractor trailers. The detective did not get the log books and the lawyer I called did not speak to the detective until 5 days later! She was only 20 years old. A bad day for her family but no one gave a damn.