• October 22, 2020

Dillon Walton Killed, Matthew Krackowieki, Melissa Krackowieki Injured in 18-wheeler Accident on I-70 in Westmoreland County, PA

UPDATE (December 15, 2022): Recent reports show that that Charles Walker pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, two counts of aggravated assault by vehicle, reckless endangerment and six summary traffic violations.
UPDATE (April 7, 2021): Reports indicate that the truck driver involved in the crash, Charles Walker, faces charges stemming from the crash. Authorities charged Walker with aggravated assault by vehicle, careless driving causing unintentional death and serious bodily injury, recklessly endangering another person, following too closely, driving at unsafe speeds, and reckless driving. According to reports, ECM data showed that Walker's truck was going 62 MPH at the moment of impact. It allegedly resulted in the death of Dillon Walton and serious injuries to Matthew Krackowieki and Melissa Krackowieki. Investigations continue.

UPDATE (October 23, 2020): Authorities identified the victim killed in the crash as 27-year-old Dillon Walton. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Westmoreland County, PA -- October 21, 2020, one person was killed and four were injured after an accident where an 18-wheeler hit a car on I-70.

Investigators with the Pennsylvania State Police responded to the Youghiogheny River Bridge at the Rostraver Township and South Huntingdon Township line.

It appears that traffic built along I-70 due to a previous crash. In that traffic, an 18-wheeler crashed into a car, pushing it into another 18-wheeler.

As a result of the collision, one person suffered fatal injuries. Four others sustained unspecified injuries. At this time, the cause of the crash remains unclear.

Commentary on Dillon Walton, Matthew Krackowieki, Melissa Krackowieki 18-wheeler Accident in Westmoreland County

UPDATE (April 7, 2021): These new details are very concerning, though it's encouraging to see authorities so hard at work getting to the bottom of what happened here. That said, I discussed below that even in the face of damning evidence, trucking companies don't just roll over and accept responsibility. Even charges don't offer any guarantees. I even had a crash not that long ago where a trucking company hired defense attorneys to beat DUI charges to make our case more difficult. Overcoming these strategies requires extensive evidence that may not align with the same evidence the authorities have, as much as their reports can help. That's why I always say independent accident reconstructions are vital in getting justice for victims and families, and I maintain that would likely be prudent here, as well.

Dillon Walton Matthew Krackowieki Melissa Krackowieki 18-wheeler Accident Westmoreland County PA

ORIGINAL: While there are still many details investigators need to look into here, there are few scenarios in which this truck driver didn't seriously mess up. The vast majority of crashes like this happen because a truck driver was speeding, following too closely, or distracted. Other possibilities beyond the truck driver's control warrant attention as well, of course, but it's important to be through and get actual evidence about what happened here.

The most common mistake I see people make after serious wrecks like this is assuming the trucking company is responsible for the crash. The fact of the matter is they're only responsible if they accept the blame or if a decision by a jury tells them they're at fault. It doesn't really matter what the facts are unless the victims and families can actually present those facts effectively.

I'll give you an example, not long ago, I had a case involving a semi-truck driver who rear-ended a car on the highway while the driver was high on drugs. Despite this damning piece of evidence, the trucking company refused to take responsibility. Why? According to them, the actual cause of the crash was a nearby ambulance's lights being too bright and blinding their driver. As ridiculous as that sounds, it was our burden to prove otherwise.

Through some diligent investigation, we were able to track down a local ambulance company that had been in the area at the time of the crash. Through their records, we proved that the ambulance was nearly a mile down the road from the crash--way too far to blind anyone. Only after poking holes in that defense (and a few other attempts) did the trucking company decide to cooperate.

Now, the takeaway there is not that the trucking company's defenses failed. The point is that despite their driver being on drugs, it took a team of experienced truck wreck attorneys to counter a defense as ridiculous as an ambulance's lights being too bright. Those are the kinds of challenges victims and families need to prepare for. Without the right experience and equipment, even a flimsy defense can find a foothold. Overcoming those hurdles is vital for getting justice for victims and for ensuring those responsible for devastating crashes like this are held fully accountable.

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