Bradon Prewitt Killed in Collision with 18-Wheeler on US-59 in Cass County, TX
Cass County, TX -- December 6, 2021, 21-year-old Bradon Prewitt was killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer on U.S. Highway 59 in Cass County.
Authorities say the incident happened around 7:10 a.m. on US-59, roughly four miles south of Linden. Preliminary investigation suggests that an International semi-truck was towing a trailer south in the highway's outside lane when the driver stopped for a school bus. Behind the truck, Prewitt was driving a Toyota Tundra south in the same lane. Reports indicate he failed to reduce his speed for unknown reasons and collided with the rear of the semi-trailer.
Prewitt suffered fatal injuries in the crash. The truck driver, 31-year-old Alton Marshall, was unhurt.
The investigation continues. No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Bradon Prewitt Accident on US-59 in Cass County
UPDATE (December 28, 2021): Later investigative reports about this accident include an important detail omitted in early news reports: The school bus that the 18-wheeler reportedly stopped for was actually letting students out on the opposite side of the highway, separated from the southbound lanes by both a median and a metal cable barrier.
As one might imagine, that detail significantly changes how this crash is perceived. Had the bus been ahead in the southbound lanes with its lights active and its stop sign extended while it let students out, clearly the truck would have been justified in stopping. However, considering that the children leaving the bus would have had to sprint across the highway and leap over some steel cable before their presence was hazardous, it's not quite so clear that the truck should have stopped in the area.
With that detail in mind there are some new questions that must join the old ones I asked before, many of which still have no definite answers: Why did the driver stop for the bus if it was on the other side of a separated highway? Did the driver just have a momentary lapse in concentration, or was something else like fatigue or impairment involved? As I asked previously, did the trucker stop suddenly or gradually? How far away was the victim when the trucker braked?
Despite this new information and the way it changes the crash's context, I'm still making no accusations here. The same things I said before about the need for careful and comprehensive investigation still stand. I just hope authorities are willing to invest the time and resources to find all the facts of the matter. If they're not willing to find what's needed to hold the right parties accountable, perhaps an independent investigation would be of more use to the victim's loved ones.
ORIGINAL: After rear-end crashes I often have to deal with the common but mistaken belief that the rear driver is automatically at fault. It may feel true because of how often reports say the rear driver was speeding or distracted (though neither was mentioned here), but it's not as much of a given as people sometimes think. Before anyone starts pointing fingers about the crash on US-59 it's important to consider whether any other factors--things not uncovered by the preliminary investigation--could be involved.
Police may just rubber-stamp "failed to reduce speed" on their reports and consider the job done, but what if something else was actually responsible for the victim's injuries? It's important to look for subtler details in pursuit of the whole story. For instance, how fast was the Toyota actually traveling at the time? What about the commercial truck--how fast was it traveling before it stopped? How far apart were the two vehicles? Were they both in good working order--good brakes, functional safety equipment, working lights, etc? Could the victim see the school bus from behind the truck? Were both drivers paying full attention to their surroundings? If not, why not? When the semi-truck approached the bus did the driver slow gradually or did he brake abruptly and surprise the victim behind the truck? Could visibility, road conditions, or weather have played a part?
I don't mean to overcomplicate this matter or say preliminary reports are wrong. I'm only saying what I always do: When people are hurt in accidents like this it's not right just to blame them without a second thought because they were behind another vehicle. Instead, it's crucial to understand exactly how and why the collision happened. To find that out there must be a thorough investigation that properly evaluates all the possibilities--even less-likely ones. It could be that such analysis would just find or confirm a simple explanation, but only after the job is done right can anyone be sure. At the very least the victim deserves the benefit of the doubt unless clear evidence is found that suggests otherwise.