"Inattentive" Truck Driver Causes Fatal I-94 Chain Reaction Crashby Jana Ritter - Published: 9/04/2015
Yet again, a truck driver failing to slow down in a construction zone has led to a fatal crash causing the death of a motorist and likely the end of his job. It’s the similar set of circumstances cited in the Tracey Morgan crash, the tragic accident that killed five Georgia nursing students and the Indiana crash that killed five motorists in July. This time, the tragic accident occurred in Michigan on eastbound I-94 near Exit 60 at Paw Paw. According to the Michigan state police, the incident happened at about 2:15 p.m. Thursday, when a construction project east of Exit 60 slowed highway traffic to a crawl and an approaching truck driver failed to slowdown.
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Police say the crash happened when a semi-truck approached the construction zone and failed to slow down despite the backed up traffic. Instead, he rear-ended a Toyota SUV instantly killing a 72-year-old Illinois man. The semi driver, whose name and age has not yet been released, was hauling apple pulp, when he rear-ended the Toyota SUV driven and killed the driver, whose name has also not yet been released. According to Michigan State Police Lt. Dale Hinz, the initial hit caused a chain reaction crash, which involved two semi-trucks and five passenger vehicles in total. Four vehicle occupants were transported to area hospitals, with two being critically injured and seven other motorists were treated for minor injuries at the scene.
Police were forced to shut down the entire eastbound I-94 at Exit 60, causing even more traffic back up in the already congested construction area. Traffic was re-routed for three hours following the crash as emergency crews and investigators attended to the grisly scene. At least one victim had to be extracted from their vehicle. It was after 5 p.m. on Thursday evening when the highway finally reopened. According to a preliminary report, the truck driver has been found at fault for failing to slowdown in the congested highway construction zone. "The preliminary investigation shows that the inattentive semi driver failed to react to the slowed traffic, causing the initial collision. The MSP Fifth District Traffic Crash Reconstructionist is currently investigating to determine the exact sequence of events following the initial collision,” the report said.
Hinz also confirmed that they are investigating why the truck driver was not paying attention to the road at the time of the crash. "90% of traffic crashes are a result of driver behavior. The takeaway from today's crash is you have to pay attention, you have to be ready especially during the summer months for lane closures and backups...unfortunately in this case we can see the results of when driver inattention comes into play," said Hinz.