Tragic Chain Reaction Kills Alabama Truck Driverby Jana Ritter - Published: 9/25/2015
Investigators say it was an SUV’s blow tire that triggered a tragic chain reaction crash on Interstate 59 in Birmingham and ended with the death of an Alabama truck driver. Today, the Jefferson County Coroner's Office identified the victim of Thursday’s deadly crash as 56-year-old Charles Ward Miller from Ethelsville in Pickens County.
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The accident occurred on Thursday afternoon at around 3 p.m.in the southbound lanes of I-59 near the Arkadelphia Road exit. According to Chief Deputy Coroner, Bill Yates, Miller had been driving an International tractor-trailer for Jeff Chisholm Trucking LLC in Mississippi. A Ford Explorer had also been driving southbound when the driver felt the SUV begin to shake before blowing its tire. The driver told authorities that she wasn't sure what happened after that, but she felt something hit her and it caused her to come to a complete stop in the exit lane to Arkadelphia.
But the driver of a Ford Escort had also been traveling in the southbound lanes and saw how it all went down. She told police that she first saw the Explorer's tire blow and when the Explorer lost control, it hit the tractor-trailer. The collision caused the truck to run off the road and crash into the support beams for the large interstate directional sign. The sign then fell onto the roof of the tractor-trailer, and also across all lanes of the I-59. While it is unclear what caused the tractor-trailer to end up overturned in the ditch, Birmingham Police Officer Chris Robinette believes the SUV pushed the truck across the road, until it rested in a ditch, and before nearly hitting another car.
The most tragic end to the accident was that the truck driver, Charles Ward Miller, was pronounced dead on the scene, shortly after emergency crews pulled him out of the cab. Crash investigators have determined there was no other option for the parties involved and nobody is being charged for what occurred.
But truck driver Stephen Hamill, who regularly drives from Missouri to the south isn’t so sure. "At this point, I can't speculate that this could have been avoided. But If they jump out in front of you, you hit the brakes, you will lock it up but will not stop," said Hamill. He thinks that too many motorists make the mistake of assuming truckers can react better because they’re sitting higher up in cabs and get a better view. "Be aware. We can't stop on a dime. We make wide turns. If you're weighing 80,000 lbs, you are not going to stop," Hamill added.