• April 07, 2022

Mary Shoemaker Killed in 18-Wheeler Accident on TX-135 near Arp

Arp, TX -- April 6, 2022, 66-year-old Mary Shoemaker died in a collision with a tractor-trailer on State Highway 135 near Arp.

Authorities say the incident happened around 4:10 a.m. along Highway 135 roughly a mile northeast of town. Preliminary investigation suggests Shoemaker was driving a Chevy Silverado north on the highway as 60-year-old Marlow Charlton was driving a Mack 18-wheeler south in the same area. For reasons not yet known Shoemaker allegedly swerved left of center into the oncoming lane and glanced off the big rig's tractor before hitting the trailer with force. The Silverado then went underneath the semi-trailer.

Shoemaker was pronounced dead at the scene. Charlton was transported to a Tyler hospital. Reports say both drivers were wearing seat belts.

No further information is available at this time.

Commentary on Mary Shoemaker Accident on TX-135 near Arp

Reports suggest the victim of this crash may have triggered it by crossing left of center. That may be enough for some to consider the matter tragic but more or less explained, but preliminary findings shouldn't be considered the final word on any crash. Over the years I've seen many cases where first impressions about what happened were entirely mistaken.

I recently worked on a similar wreck where police said a victim crossed the center line and crashed with a big rig. In that situation we looked more closely on behalf of the victim's family and learned the victim was only in the oncoming lane to escape the truck, which crossed over first when its driver fell asleep. The trucker then swerved back when the victim's honking horn woke him up.

The victim couldn't evade the truck a second time, but they certainly weren't to blame. Because police found both vehicles in the truck's lane when they got there, though, they said the victim crossed over. There were no witnesses but the sleepy trucker, who felt no urge to set the record straight. If we hadn't intervened on the family's behalf the wrong person--unable to tell their side of things--might have taken the blame forever.

Mary Shoemaker Killed in 18-Wheeler Accident on TX-135 near Arp

That one was pretty unusual and I'm not saying the Arp wreck happened the same way. Even if authorities confirm the victim crossed over first, though, there's still the crucial question of why. Some may automatically blame distraction or fatigue given how common those are in early-morning wrecks, but there are many other reasons a person might lose control. Could the pickup have blown a tire or had a mechanical failure? What about the victim--could she have experienced some kind of incapacitating medical issue that caused her to go off-course? Could she have hit a bad patch of road? Those may not be as common as some other explanations, but all possibilities must still be properly investigated.

I don't know what happened in the Arp crash and I'm not saying it has to be particularly complicated. Moreover, I want to be very clear that I'm not accusing the truck driver of anything here. In mentioning the other case I worked on I only mean to emphasize that things aren't always as straightforward as they first appear. Early reports can contain mistakes or omissions, which is why I often suggest working with independent accident reconstructionists who can devote the proper time and care to finding all the facts. The victim's family deserves to know every effort was made to find the whole truth of the matter.

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