One Injured in Crash with U-Turning 18-Wheeler on I-43 in Port Washington, WI
UPDATE (April 14, 2022): Recent reports indicate the truck driver who made a U-turn on the freeway in this accident, 42-year-old Orriet Wright, was charged last week in Ozaukee County Circuit Court with second-degree recklessly endangering safety, a felony charge.
Port Washington, WI -- February 1, 2022, one person was injured in a collision with a U-turning tractor-trailer on Interstate 43 in Port Washington.
Authorities say the incident happened around 5:10 p.m. on I-43 near Highway H. Preliminary investigation suggests a Freightliner 18-wheeler traveled south from Highway H onto the northbound off-ramp of I-43, sending it the wrong direction on the interstate. The truck driver reportedly tried to correct his error by U-turning to head north, but during the turn a northbound Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck crashed into its trailer. Both vehicles received disabling damage and blocked the northbound lanes.
The pickup's 51-year-old driver suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the collision and was taken to a hospital in Grafton. The semi-truck driver was unhurt.
Reports indicate the trucker was cited for reckless driving, operating the wrong way on a highway and charged with second-degree felony reckless endangerment.
No further information is currently available.
Commentary on 18-Wheeler Accident on I-43 in Port Washington
If reports have their facts straight it looks like the truck driver made a series of major errors that led to this crash. Police seem to agree given the charges and citations involved.
Considering the reported facts and the reaction from law enforcement some may think it would be a pretty simple matter to hold the truck driver and by extension his employer accountable for the accident if the victim sought help with his recovery. However, I caution against concluding that before the whole story is known--and proven--through objective facts. Even if reports seem clear that the truck driver was to blame, it could be difficult getting him or his employer to accept responsibility for the damages. Some of the tactics trucking companies use when trying to avoid fault can take an unprepared victim by surprise.
I recently worked on another crash that emphasizes that point. In that situation an 18-wheeler pulled out of a parking lot directly into a car's path, causing a fatal collision. Reports and police said the commercial driver was at fault and the victim's family assumed that was enough. When they approached the trucking company about it, though, they were shocked as it told them the victim himself was actually to blame. The company claimed he was speeding and not wearing a seat belt, the combination of which was most directly responsible for his injuries. Heartless? Of course, but on top of that it was untrue. The family had to prove that, so they reached out to us for help.
Our investigators analyzed several sources of data from the crash and determined that the victim wasn't speeding. We also spoke with the ambulance crews that worked to save his life and all of the EMTs agreed they had to cut through his fastened seat belt before they could get him out of the car. With that evidence in hand we refuted the trucking company's arguments that the victim was to blame and it finally accepted responsibility for its employee's reckless act.
That kind of battle is all too common after truck accidents, so even if the Port Washington wreck seems quite straightforward on paper it's important that the victim prepare for excuses, deflections, and "creative" interpretations of events from the company responsible for his injuries. They'll fight like hell to protect their assets it they see even a sliver of hope they could get off the hook. Preliminary reports from news sources or even police, no matter how clear they may seem, typically aren't enough to get a proper resolution. Will appropriate steps be taken here to ensure the victim gets the help he deserves?