Kens5.com recently released a report detailing a one-vehicle pick up truck accident southwest of Goliad, Texas that claimed the lives of fourteen individuals and seriously injured nine. Our Illinois truck accident attorneys read that a 2000 white Ford Super-Duty F-250 truck overloaded with passengers was heading north on U.S 59 in the rural community of Berclair on Sunday evening, about 100 miles southeast of San Antonio. Police say the truck suddenly veered off the right side of the highway and struck two large trees.
A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety said twenty-three passengers were crammed inside the truck’s cab and bed, including at least two young children. Eleven people, including the driver of the truck, were killed at the scene. Six of those who died were still inside the mangled vehicle when emergency crews arrived at the scene, while five were found outside of the vehicle. Medical helicopters and ambulances took the twelve surviving victims to hospitals in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Victoria, several with life-threatening injuries. Early Monday, a Department of Public Safety dispatcher in San Antonio said three of those victims died at the hospitals, bringing the total number dead to fourteen. “This is the most people I’ve seen in any passenger vehicle, and I’ve been an officer for 38 years,” stated the dispatcher. He said it was one of the state’s most serious accidents in his time.
Our Illinois truck accident lawyers learned that the victims included men, women, and two young children, all who have not been identified. Authorities say the truck was registered in Houston to someone other than the driver. Beginning Monday morning, investigators were trying to determine what exactly caused the accident that lead to the multiple fatalities. Authorities say it could be another week or two before it is concluded, in addition to whether anyone should be held criminally responsible for the accident.
The report states that Border Control was assisting in the investigation into the accident in Goliad County, about 150 miles northeast of the border with Mexico. It was not immediately clear if those involved were illegal immigrants, but it is possible. Thus, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents are working to confirm the identities of the victims to determine if this was a case of human smuggling. Such overloaded vehicles are not uncommon, as smugglers of illegal immigrants try to maximize profits through moving their loads north from the Texas-Mexico border. Records show that in April, nine Mexican immigrants died near the border when the teenage driver of their van crashed after fleeing Border Patrol. There were eighteen people in that minivan.
From the standpoint of a Chicago truck accident attorney, driving a large amount of passengers inside of a single vehicle can be extremely dangerous for not only the passengers, but also other motorists on the roadway. Cars and trucks are designed to hold a certain number of people safely, and if they are overcrowded, they put passengers at risk. The driver of the vehicle may have had blocked sight lines and had trouble seeing other vehicles and pedestrians through his windows or mirrors. Thus, the driver put everyone at risk when he allowed to many people to pack into the truck. There is no Illinois law at this time that specifically prohibits passengers from riding in the cargo bed of a pickup truck, however seat belt laws do restrict who can ride in the bed. The Child Passenger Safety act requires that passengers must be at least 16 years of age to ride in the bed of the pickup; if there are children under 16 in the bed of the pickup, the truck must never move faster than 25 miles per hour. If it does, all passengers under 16 must be fastened in a seat belt or child safety seat inside of the truck.
Our Chicago truck accident attorneys agree that the accident described in the above report would not have been so severe if there were not as many people riding in the vehicle. Riding in the bed of a pick up truck is very dangerous; even at low speeds, a fall from a pick up bed can be deadly. We are aware of the severity of truck accidents and understand that those involved can suffer life-altering consequences. If you or someone you know has suffered serious injuries, medical expenses, or property damage as a result of a negligent truck driver, please contact one of our Chicago personal injury lawyers at Levin & Perconti. We are willing to assist you in determining if legal recourse is available to you, and are prepared to offer you the resources you need to seek legal action.