• March 15, 2022

Ronald Rothermel, Duane Siple Killed in 18-Wheeler Accident on US-287 in Grand Prairie, TX

UPDATE (April 25, 2022): Reports have identified the two drivers killed in this accident as 84-year-old Ronald Rothermel and 51-year-old Duane Siple.

Grand Prairie, TX -- March 14, 2022, two people were killed in a multi-vehicle crash caused by a tractor-trailer on U.S. Highway 287 in Grand Prairie.

Authorities say the incident happened Monday afternoon on US-287 between FM 661 and Prairie Ridge Boulevard. Preliminary investigation suggests a Kenworth 18-wheeler was traveling south on the highway when the driver failed to reduce speed for unknown reasons. The truck crashed into a Tesla Model 3 and a Mazda CX-5 that were waiting at the end of traffic congestion caused by road work a mile down the road. The impact with the Mazda pushed it into the back of a Lexus RX-350, which in turn sent the Lexus into the back of a trailer attached to a Volvo van. The Kenworth truck then crashed into the back of the Volvo's trailer as well before coming to a stop.

The Mazda and Lexus drivers were pronounced dead at the scene. The Kenworth driver reportedly suffered serious injuries in the wreck. No other injuries were reported.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Ronald Rothermel, Duane Siple Accident on US-287 in Grand Prairie

An 18-wheeler usually crashes into slowed or stopped traffic for one or more of the same few reasons--most commonly speeding, following too closely, fatigue, or distraction. I'm not saying any of those was necessarily involved in Grand Prairie; they aren't the only possible explanations for what happened. However, in most of these situations it's ultimately found the crash was avoidable and the driver just made a serious mistake.

Of course, neither the truck driver nor his employer are likely to agree with that. Just because a police report says the driver did something wrong doesn't mean that's set in stone, and in fact trucking companies are pretty notorious for arguing against any suggestion of wrongdoing. My long experience in this field is full of companies arguing traffic came to a sudden halt with no warning, or that a truck driver couldn't see far enough ahead to react because of sun glare or fog. Occasionally that may be true, but it's used as a flimsy excuse far more often than as a legitimate reason for the damage done. The defense isn't as worried about the truth of the argument as it is whether a jury will buy it and let them off the hook.

Ronald Rothermel, Duane Siple Killed in 18-Wheeler Accident on US-287 in Grand Prairie, TX

The burden of proving the company's arguments are untrue actually falls to the victims and their families. Doing so typically requires gathering plenty of clear evidence proving their side of the story, which can be a tall order as they're still reeling from their injuries or loss. To ensure they have what they need not to have a story spun against them, I often recommend they work with independent investigators who have the training and tools needed to find critical proof.

Some may think that's not necessary and that police will handle matters, but it's important to realize that law enforcement's priorities don't actually align with helping victims so much as with punishing lawbreakers. Police reports can sometimes provide helpful information, but trucking attorneys are often skilled at poking holes in them and introducing so much doubt that they escape liability even if common sense suggests they shouldn't.

People call the firm all the time after serious accidents just trying to figure out what they should do first. I typically suggest the same things: See a trusted doctor and once the extent of the damage is known, talk to someone about an investigation on their behalf. Armed with the evidence a seasoned accident reconstructionist finds and a solid case built on facts, many injured victims are able to shut down a trucking company's arguments and successfully get the help they need and deserve.

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