• August 17, 2021

James McDonald, Two Others Injured in Truck Accident on US-69 in Bells, TX

Bells, TX -- July 23, 2021, 62-year-old James McDonald and two other people were seriously injured in a crash with a tractor-trailer on U.S. Highway 69 in Bells.

Authorities say the incident happened around 11:30 a.m. on US-69 near US-82. Preliminary investigation suggests McDonald was driving a Ford F-250 pickup truck north on the highway when he reportedly attempted to overtake a Freightliner tractor-trailer as the two entered a slight curve in the road. As the pickup passed the semi-truck a motorcycle approached from the opposite direction. McDonald veered right in an effort to avoid the oncoming vehicle, causing the pickup's bed to crash into the front left of the semi-truck's cab. The pickup then left the roadway to the east and struck a tree, then caught fire.

McDonald and two passengers in the F-250 suffered serious injuries in the crash. The commercial truck driver was unhurt.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on James McDonald Accident on US-69 in Bells

Something I talk a lot about on this blog is the mistaken impression that crashes typically boil down to a single clear cause. As it happens, the law surrounding these accidents is typically much more nuanced than that and accounts for the idea that multiple elements occurring at the same time are usually responsible for an accident.

Take the crash in Bells, for example: Based on the information available in reports, it would probably be pretty simple for some people to point a finger at the injured driver and say a "faulty passing maneuver" was the source of his injuries. I would argue that it is more likely to be one piece of a larger puzzle, and that puzzle needs assembly before anyone could safely say what the proximate cause of the victims' injuries was.

James McDonald, Two Others Injured in Truck Accident on US-69 in Bells, TX

Here are a few questions that need answering while conducting a more careful investigation: How fast was everyone traveling? What was the motorcyclist's reaction to seeing a pickup truck approaching in his lane? Did they simply continue onward? Additionally, did the commercial truck driver realize that the pickup was trying to pass and slow to allow it--especially after seeing the motorcycle in the other lane? Or did he, like many other motorists have done, speed up for whatever mystifying reason to prevent being passed? Note that I'm not accusing him of such behavior, but rather acknowledging something drivers occasionally do that leads to some devastating wrecks like the one on US-69.

I'm not pointing any fingers or necessarily disagreeing with the police narrative about this accident, but I've seen far too many crashes where a little more effort showed the original assessments were actually mistaken. It could be that this really is just a matter of a misjudged pass attempt, but right now I don't feel satisfied with the explanation about why it failed. To that end, there should be further investigation to ensure everyone involved acted as reasonably prudent drivers should in an effort to avoid an accident. If it's found everyone acted appropriately and things just shook out poorly, then that's at least still a conclusive answer. However, if it's learned that someone didn't do everything they could to avoid this crash then some legal accountability may be in order.

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