• December 20, 2021

Maria Ramirez and Child Killed in Crash with Disabled 18-Wheeler on I-35 in Laredo, TX

Laredo, TX -- December 18, 2021, 27-year-old Maria Matiana Ramirez and a young boy were killed in a collision with a disabled tractor-trailer on Interstate 35 in Laredo.

Authorities say the incident happened around 3:00 p.m. on southbound I-35 near mile marker 20. Preliminary investigation suggests a Volvo 18-wheeler was disabled on the shoulder of the roadway in a heavy rainstorm. The victims, reportedly in a Dodge Ram pickup truck, lost control on the roadway in the wet conditions and collided with the back of the parked big rig.

Ramirez and the four-year-old boy, both passengers in the pickup, suffered fatal injuries in the crash. A 61-year-old woman in the pickup was seriously injured. The semi-truck driver was unhurt.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Maria Ramirez Truck Accident on I-35 in Laredo

Folks have a tendency to think a parked driver can't be responsible if a moving vehicle hits them, but things are sometimes more complex than that--particularly in instances involving commercial trucks.

Investigators may focus mainly on why the victim left the road and hit the stopped semi-truck; reports noted the Dodge may have lost traction on the wet surface. However, it's also important to find out more about why that big rig was there at all. Depending on what is learned, the truck driver (and by extension his employer) may be liable for the fatal damages caused in the crash.

The law has some pretty specific views on why and how a commercial truck can stop on the roadside. For instance, it should only do so for emergencies like disabling vehicular failures or incapacitating medical episodes. Reports say the truck was stopped on the shoulder due to being disabled; that's one of the few permissible reasons to stop on the shoulder, so if that's true then at least the commercial driver didn't just pull over to have a snack or take a quick nap. It should still be worked out precisely what kind of disabling issue affected the truck. If it was a problem that could easily have been predicted or prevented, then there may still be a matter of negligence to address.

Maria Ramirez and Child Killed in Crash with Disabled 18-Wheeler on I-35 in Laredo, TX

Additionally, if an 18-wheeler stops on the shoulder its driver must put out high-visibility devices around it--especially at intervals behind it--to warn approaching motorists about the potential obstruction in their path. If the victims' pickup really lost control on the wet road then it's unclear whether such devices would have made much difference, but their use is not optional.

I'm not claiming to know exactly how things happened on I-35, and despite my concerns about the stopped truck I'm not making any accusations. I'm just suggesting that further investigation should be conducted to answer several lingering questions. Rather than simply blaming rain or the driver who hit the big rig, it's vital to determine what exact role each element (parked truck, victim's loss of control, wet road conditions, weather, visibility, other traffic, etc) played in the crash and its tragic aftermath.

To be sure the whole truth is found, there likely needs to be a thorough examination by an independent accident reconstructionist. At the very least the victims' loved ones deserve to know every effort was made to bring them the whole truth. If there are any further steps to take, knowing that will largely depend on what is learned.

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