A police report says the driver in a catastrophic big rig accident was not paying attention, the Oklahoman reported Aug. 4. The June 26 crash took place just over the border from Joplin, MO, in northeastern Oklahoma. The report by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol says truck driver Donald Creed, 76, did not appear to slow down or swerve before he ran into stopped traffic at around 70 mph, setting off a chain-reaction crash. The crash killed ten people traveling from Oklahoma City, Texas and Arizona and injured at least three others, including a 12-year-old girl. Witnesses said it took three to five hours to rescue survivors and bodies from the wreckage.
Investigators have ruled out intoxication, mechanical problems or visual obstructions as causes of the crash. In this report, officers said a GPS device inside the truck showed Creed was traveling at consistent speeds before the crash, suggesting that cruise control was on. Creed declined to be interviewed about the crash, but officers said he was able to walk and respond to questions and showed no signs of visual impairment. However, at the scene, he asked officers if he had hit someone. He also said vehicles had driven underneath his truck while it was parked. Oklahoma law enforcement is waiting for the results of a criminal investigation before deciding whether to charge Creed criminally. If they do, he could face ten counts of negligent homicide and other charges.
As a Missouri semi truck accident attorney, I rarely find a case in which authorities can find no discernable reason for a crash other than simple inattention. Distraction by itself may be a realistic explanation — a study by the Virginia Tech Traffic Institute showed that 80% of crashes of passenger cars were preceded by some type of driver distraction. But given Creed’s evident confusion at the scene and his age, 76, I wonder whether investigators are also looking into the possibility that he was mentally confused. Driving is an important part of independence for older people here in Missouri and throughout the Midwest, and driving privileges shouldn’t be revoked lightly. But as a Missouri tractor-trailer crash lawyer, I would strongly support mandatory testing for older drivers of commercial vehicles, which have the power to kill and maim the innocent people around them if the operator makes even a brief mistake.
At the Lowe Law Firm, we represent victims of devastating accidents caused by the carelessness of a trucker or a trucking company. That includes crashes caused by bad driving decisions as well as improperly secured loads, bad safety equipment or company policies encouraging truckers to break the law. Victims of these crashes are often killed or left with lifelong disabilities, including brain damage, paralysis and severe burns. Our St. Louis 18-wheeler accident lawyers help these victims hold the wrongdoers responsible for their actions and secure the money they need to make ends meet and get the medical care they need. With offices in St. Louis and Belleville, Ill., we represent clients throughout Missouri and southern Illinois.
If you or a loved one was seriously injured by a careless truck driver, you have rights. To learn more at a free, confidential consultation, please contact the Lowe Law Firm online or call toll-free at 1-877-678-3400.