A needless tragedy was caused by an illegally high18-wheeler that crashed into an overpass under construction and forced huge concrete beams to collapse onto vehicles below.
Rescuers pulled victims from two tractor-trailers and two pickup trucks crushed by two massive beams. Tragically, a 32 year old man named Clark Davis from Arlington died in the terrifying accident. Three other drivers were injured and rushed to Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple. The interstate was shut down for almost 18 hours.
The 18-wheeler crash occurred at11:15 a.m. yesterday on I-35 at FM 2484 in Salado. A spokesperson from the Texas Department of Transportation says the load was too tall to fit under the bridge and did not have the required permit for a “too high load.” The height of the bridge and tractor-trailer height restriction of 13 feet, 6 inches was posted two miles before the site on three different signs.
You have to ask how this could happen. Don’t we have laws preventing this? Aren’t they enforced? What are our rights as drivers? How can we stop collisions like this from happening again? Who will pay for the damages? Does Lares Trucking even carry liability insurance or have any assets that can be levied upon to pay the victims? Who will repay the State of Texas for the police, tow trucks, massive cleanup, and bridge repair ahead? Is this bridge still safe to drive under?
Trucking Company Based In Crowley
According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the tractor trailer carrying a cherry picker was owned by Lares Trucking. Its owner, Julian Lares, was quoted as saying he had no idea where his driver, Valentin Martinez, was going. The driver kept driving after knocking down the bridge and merely told his boss that he had been “in an accident,” and when pressed for more information, hung up.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Lares Trucking did not have any crashes in the past two years; however, it had failed two of five random inspections and had to take its tractor trailer out of service. What’s more, the company received 20 violations including frame cracked/loose/sagging/broken, defective brake warning device, inoperative horn and an exhaust leak. The company is so small it doesn’t even have a web site.
According to witnesses, the oversize big-rig hit the overhead beam and became wedged under the overpass, severely damaging the tractor.
Overpass Under Construction at Time of Accident
It is common knowledge that the overpass was under construction. The site is part of an extensive I-35 expansion project from Hillsboro to Salado that includes widening the highway to six lanes, building new overpasses and exit ramps, and conducting other types of roadway work. Construction has been ongoing since 2008 on the I-35 project.
Weight and Height Limits
Texas has established specific weight and size limits on trucks and their loads. Under specified circumstances, the company is required to obtain an oversize or overweight limit permit that allows it to carry larger, heavier loads on certain Texas roadways and bridges. In addition, trucks with loads that are too high to safely pass under bridges and overpasses are responsible for taking alternative routes.
Last year, plenty of these permits were issued. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, Motor Carrier Division, issued 836,259 permits, which was up from 590,980 in 2011, so commercial truck companies know how to get them. They ranged from construction equipment (like here) to manufactured housing to oil, gas and water well drilling equipment.
Construction Work Zone Dangers
Ironically, this catastrophe happened during this week’s National Work Zone Week designed to alert the driving public of the dangers they face as they drive in these areas — all too common in our booming state. Last year, 146 people died in construction zones, and almost all were drivers, not construction workers as is commonly believed. This figure is up 12% over the year before. This law firm is working on several of these cases now.
Wrecks that happen in construction zones are more commonly caused by negligent equipment, road construction contractors misplacing warning signs, installing faulty or confusing signs, worker’s trucks or equipment on the roadway, allowing debris on the highway, and other failures to adhere to safety regulations.
We Have Helped Victims Of Crashes On I-35
The Berenson Law Firm is unfortunately familiar with this stretch (and many others) of I-35. We represented the victim, a student at the University of Texas returning to Austin, in a tractor-trailer crash in this same area several years ago. The big rig slammed into my client’s SUV that was at a complete stop due to bridge construction similar to what happened here. We were able to successfully resolve my client’s case prior to trial and our client was very pleased (and we are now representing her mother in another collision case). Here’s a photo of my client’s SUV.
Our experienced personal injury law firm recovers damages for victims injured by tractor-trailers and poor roadway conditions. For more information, call our experienced Dallas/ Fort Worth attorney at 817-885-8000 to schedule a free, no-risk consultation. We are here to help you through the difficult aftermath following a truck or automobile crash.