Mark Reinke Killed in 18-wheeler Accident in Arco, ID
Arco, ID -- February 13, 2020, Mark Reinke was killed as the result of an accident where an 18-wheeler rear-ended his backhoe.
Investigators with the Idaho State Police said that the crash happened at around 7:00 a.m. about 5 miles outside of town.
From initial reports, it appears that 56-year-old Mark Reinke was driving a backhoe westbound on US 26. While dong so, a semi hauling double trailers did not see the backhoe in time. As a result, the truck crashed into the back of the backhoe, forcing it off-road.
Reinke suffered fatal injuries as a result of the crash, to which he succumbed at a local hospital. Reports confirm he was wearing a seatbelt. The condition of the truck driver is unclear.
Police did not report any citations or charges following the crash. Their investigations are ongoing at this time.
I think the question here is pretty obvious: How did this truck driver not see a backhoe in the middle of the road? Those aren't exactly hard to see, even early in the morning when the sun is still coming up. Generally speaking, in the cases I've litigated that have this sort of fact pattern, the evidence almost always shows that the truck driver was doing something wrong. But I don't want to suggest this is an open-and-shut case. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
No matter what the facts are, trucking companies have a right to deny them, and they almost always do. The burden of countering their claims falls to the victims and families affected by the crash. Even in the face of overwhelming evidence, they need to be prepared to prove their side of the story.
I'll give you an example. I litigated a case recently where an 18-wheeler plowed into the back of a car on the highway. It was clear as day that the truck driver screwed up, but the trucking company refused to take responsibility for the crash. We got a court order to pull the truck's electronic logs, showing that the driver had been driving for 20 hours (well above federally mandated maximums. The trucking company still denied responsibility. We pulled blood test records that proved their driver was on drugs at the time of the crash. They still denied blame. Their defense? A nearby ambulance blinded their driver with its flashing lights.
Now, as ridiculous as that sounds, it's technically a legitimate defense. That means that if we left it unchecked, it could potentially work and help the trucking company avoid at least some responsibility. We weren't going to let that happen. After some digging, we were able to track down the exact ambulance that was nearby when the crash happened. Its service logs clearly showed that the ambulance was nearly a mile away from the wreck--way too far to blind anyone. With that, the trucking company finally abandoned that flimsy defense. They tried a few more, of course, but ultimately our case was too thorough, and they had no choice but to take responsibility for the crash.
Had our clients not sought legal help, or had they hired a less-experienced attorney who didn't have experience with these defense tactics, they likely wouldn't have been able to hold the trucking company fully accountable for the crash. That's true with almost every serious truck wreck. While it's not entirely clear what caused the wreck which took the life of Mr. Reinke, I see a lot of familiar red flags. It's important that those affected by this tragedy take steps to prepare themselves for the challenges ahead.