UPDATE, January 11 2019: The injured driver of the pickup truck involved in this crash has been identified as 59-year-old Daniel Sweeten. The uninjured semi-truck driver was 44-year-old Teresa Ramirez.

Navasota, TX — On January 9, 2019, a fiery crash between a dually pickup truck and a tractor-trailer caused serious injury to the pickup’s driver.

According to Navasota police, the crash happened early Wednesday afternoon on Texas Route 6 near FM 2154. A tractor-trailer hauling pipes reportedly pulled off the highway so the driver could check on the security of the load, then attempted to re-enter traffic a short time later at the FM2154 entrance ramp. As the truck started to merge back in, a pickup truck hauling a trailer crashed into the rear of the rear of the big rig. After the collision, diesel fuel from the pickup caught fire, engulfing the truck.

Bystanders managed to pull the pickup driver out of the vehicle before the fire could reach him. The driver was then airlifted to CHI St. Joseph Hospital with serious injuries. The driver of the tractor-trailer was reportedly uninjured.

No citations have been issued, but law enforcement continues to investigate the incident.

Map of the Area

Commentary

UPDATE, February 21 2019: The official TxDOT police report about this crash seems to put the truck driver, Teresa Ramirez, at fault for the crash.

Daniel Lee Sweeten Crash Report, Page 1

Daniel Lee Sweeten Crash Report, Page 2

Daniel Lee Sweeten Crash Report, Page 3

Daniel Lee Sweeten Crash Report, Page 4

Now that the official report says so, the trucking company has no choice but to step up and do the right thing for the victim’s family, right?

Not exactly.

The family of the victim still faces the burden of proving that the truck driver’s negligence is the proximate cause of the victim’s death. The officers’ determination that the driver caused the crash is not the same as definitive proof that negligence caused injury. The driver’s employer and its insurer are still free to dispute the facts posed by the police report, which at the end of the day is only an officer’s professional assessment–his “best guess”–about what happened.

Without evidence to counteract them, the company can blame inclement weather, road conditions, or any number of other elements for being the proximate cause of the accident. Without clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, many victims and their families have lost the chance to hold the truck driver and by proxy his or her employer accountable for their negligent behaviors.

ORIGINAL: Determining who’s to blame in this crash is largely going to depend on the timing of events. How far away was the pickup truck when the 18-wheeler tried to merge back into traffic? Did the pickup have time to stop or take evasive maneuvers, or did the big rig’s driver try to squeeze into traffic at a dangerous moment?

Until we know the answers to these questions, it’s hard to say who may have been in the wrong, and while I’m not trying to blame the truck driver, her sole testimony about what occurred must be taken with a grain of salt. That’s not a dig at her or truck drivers, but it’s unavoidable that most people try to paint themselves in the best possible light when explaining an accident.

The only way the real facts are going to be found out is with thorough investigation. Accident reconstruction will probably be necessary to determine the timing involved, and exactly where the pickup was before the 18-wheeler slid into its lane. I’m not sure what kind of resources the Navasota police department has, but it’s possible they’re not quite up to the challenge of scene reconstruction, which is why I generally recommend that victims work with an independent accident reconstruction expert to learn the facts of a crash.

These experts have the time, training, and resources to map a crash site, run simulations, and determine the timing of events. If they determine that the truck driver took a dangerous risk when re-entering traffic, the driver’s employer may owe the pickup driver more than an apology.

–Grossman Law Offices

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Recent Comments to the Blog

Jason is back to work and is now playing Sled Hockey and wheelchair rugby!! Jason is the strongest and most amazing man! He may nly have 1/2 a leg, but that is ALL he is lacking!! Thanks to prayer and GOD and awsome first responders and Baylor doctors. Jason's wife, Sheila
— Sheila
I'm a former employee. I had brought up this exact scenario and suggested a maintenance procedure that would eliminate the possibility of this type injury. Obviously my warning went unheeded.
— Tophat
I was actually a couple cars back from this wreck, one of the first on the scene, and helped administer CPR on the victims. The truck driver was going way too fast, but it was actually his trailer that swung around and hit the suv, the semi-truck ended in the median.
— Leif Burton
I appreciate how you've commentated on this tragedy--informative, with questions, but not hurtful. I live within 30 mins of this crash site, and I am appalled at the entire situation :(. I can't even begin to understand what could have happened to make this come to fruition, but I will be keeping up with it so I can learn what investigations bring to light about how something awful like this could happen. Rest in peace, Thomas, Carolyn and Carolyn...
— Summer
I am Anthony Siffords daughter. im 13 and i miss my dad i just wanted everyone to know that he is in a better place now and i would to thank everyone for the support. i miss my dad but it was amazing to see how many people had been toughed by my dad god bless thanks for everything...
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I am Rodney Palmer's sister-inlaw. I am amazed and grateful for all the heartfelt wishes and support for our family... It is difficult indeed to put our thoughts into words, but we very much appreciate your kind and helpful words at a time when these things mean so much. Losing someone as special as Rodney has been tough, but knowing the he has touched so many people's lives keeps my sister's strengthens our family.
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A lot of people say smack about lawyers, but I want to say that I'm glad there is a way that people who are wronged by corporate neglect can get justice and force change. We are living in a world where corporations and govt care less than ever about common people, and I support your work. I hope I will never need your services.
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My friend Michael was the one who got hit by this train. This is the ONLY article I can find on it!! How is that possible? It happened almost 5 days ago! Thank you for actually caring about us "no name" people. I hope when more information comes in you will post it as soon as you can. Thank you again!! God bless you
— Leslie
Tony was the step Grant father and it's been hard for the whole family but we know he is in a better place now. It's nice to know that people are rasing awareness with my grandfathers story. Thanks, family and friends of Tony Wray.
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Thank you for posting these accident articles on your site. At the company that I work for, e deal with monitoring construction activity and work around trenches and all sorts of construction equipment/vehicles. I sometimes wonder if construction companies have enough safety training to inform employees of how to protect themselves while on the job.
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