Jeff Vickers Killed in Truck Accident on US-52 in Mt. Airy, NC
Mt. Airy, NC -- April 5, 2022, Jeff Vickers was killed when a semi-truck crashed into the tow truck helping his disabled vehicle on U.S. Highway 52 in Mt. Airy.
Authorities say the incident happened around 1:40 a.m. along southbound US-52. Preliminary investigation suggests a rollback tow truck was on the scene to help with Vickers' disabled vehicle, which had a flat tire. The tow truck was possibly angled and partially in the slow travel lane of the road when a car-hauler big rig approached and hit its ramp. The semi-truck rolled up the ramp and briefly went airborne before landing on its driver's side and sliding southward around 300 feet.
Bickers, reportedly standing on top of the tow truck's bed when the semi-truck passed through, was hit by the airborne truck and came down under its cab when it landed. He suffered fatal injuries in the crash. His wife and the tow truck driver were reportedly able to jump out of the way before the collision occurred. The truck driver's condition is unknown.
No further information is available at this time.
Commentary on Jeff Vickers Accident on US-52 in Mt. Airy
If reports have their facts straight this terrible accident appears to have some complicated elements that could make identifying the responsible party difficult.
On the one hand we appear to have a semi-truck running along the highway and hitting the parked tow truck before going airborne. It seems like there are few instances where that could happen if a truck driver was fully awake and attentive to the road ahead, with the truck's lights on and all its parts fully functional. That's not to say the driver was deliberately slacking off or watching a movie on a tablet or anything, but rather that even a moment's distraction at a bad time could still have set these events in motion.
On the other hand, it was pointed out that the tow truck was angled at least partially into the travel lane. There's no particular reason the semi-truck driver would anticipate something like that aside from whatever training and coaching he got about remaining vigilant at the wheel, and he didn't put the obstacle in the road himself, so there's an argument to be made that the tow truck operator's actions and where they parked were at least partially responsible for the damage done.
Little as I like to say it, from the perspective of the defense there may also be a point to make about the victim standing on the truck's bed. That might only have been momentary after he helped steer his pickup up the tow ramp, but a company's defense may still point to where he was positioned when they're talking about why his injuries aren't their employee's fault. There isn't a lot of merit to that argument, but they aren't shy about pointing fingers wherever they can to deflect fault.
All this talk of who may shoulder the blame for the crash is particularly relevant because the accident happened in North Carolina. The Tarheel State uses an outdated and unfair system of liability called pure contributory negligence. In a nutshell it says that an injured victim found at all responsible for their injuries has no claim. Even if a jury finds they're just 1% at fault, the case is thrown out. This system is highly adversarial toward victims, so if the loved ones of the man killed in the US-52 accident felt the need to seek damages they would need an airtight case with abundant clear evidence. That's not impossible, but it would likely take more information than reports offer so far.
Unfortunately police traffic divisions don't always have the time or resources to conduct the thorough investigation needed for such a case. They'll work out a timeline of events but likely will not go the extra mile to find every subtle detail, even if those could make a huge difference in securing much-needed help for the people affected. That's why I often recommend that victims and families work with independent investigators to find the proof they need. At the very least a comprehensive investigation may bring some answers and closure that a "by the book" police investigation can't.