• March 03, 2021

Dustin Garcia Killed in 18-Wheeler Crash After Hitting Mattress on Hwy 277N in Abilene, TX

Abilene, TX -- March 2, 2021, 40-year-old Dustin Garcia was killed by an 18-wheeler after hitting a loose mattress on Highway 277 North in Abilene.

Authorities say the incident happened around 6:30 a.m. on Highway 277 near the Brazos River bridge. Preliminary investigation suggests Garcia was traveling south toward town when his Toyota Scion reportedly ran over a mattress in the outside traffic lane. He lost control of the vehicle, crossed through the inside lane, hit a guardrail, and spun several times before coming to rest in the middle of the roadway. Reports say dust kicked up during the car's spin-out prevented the driver of an approaching Volvo tractor-trailer from seeing it, and the truck then hit the Toyota.

Garcia was killed in the impact with the truck. The Volvo driver received minor injuries.

Investigators say the owner of the mattress, reported by witnesses to be driving a possibly brown crew-cab pickup truck that did not stop to retrieve it, could face charges.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Dustin Garcia Accident on Hwy 277N in Abilene

It sounds from reports like police are focused mostly on finding the pickup that lost the mattress and functionally set this tragic chain of events in motion. Of course I support holding that person accountable for not taking care of the obstacle they left in the road, but I can't help but notice that reports say the mattress crash didn't take the victim's life--the commercial truck crash did.

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I don't want to lay undue blame on the truck driver for a chaotic situation that probably lasted only a few moments in real time. I'm just not entirely convinced the news outlets have their facts straight just yet.

According to reports, the car kicked up so much road dust that it became impossible to detect by the Volvo driver. I know West Texas gets a lot of prairie dirt blowing everywhere (I learned long ago not to chew gum on a windy day in Lubbock), but I have a hard time believing an economy car could spin fast and hard enough to dredge up a cloud that fully obscured it. Furthermore, it's puzzling to me that any driver's response, let alone a professional one's, to some kind of dust-wall across the road would be to try and blow through it. When visibility is reduced or blocked entirely, the responsible thing is to slow down until the obstruction clears. Be it a dust storm or a blizzard, if you can't see you have to slow down or even stop until you can.

Finally, it's odd to me to think that the truck driver might not have seen the initial crash in the first place if he was close enough that he couldn't avoid the dust cloud or the car. West Texas has sightlines for miles and the crash happened in the early-morning light, so it seems like the preliminary accident with the mattress should have been visible and thus avoidable.

I know all this sounds like I'm blaming the commercial driver even though the police don't, which many will probably consider unfair. My point is only that investigators clearly have many more questions to answer before anyone can say what exactly happened, let alone who is to blame. While the mattress' owners may be responsible for the first crash, the proximate cause of Mr. Garcia's unfortunate passing seems to be something else. It's important to determine whether the second crash could reasonably have been avoided, and if so to find out why it wasn't. The victim's loved ones deserve to know that every element of this accident was carefully considered and the whole truth found.

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