• April 11, 2022

Vicente Mejia-Soto Killed, Four Injured in Crash on I-30E in Little Rock, AR

Little Rock, AR -- April 10, 2022, 45-year-old Vicente Mejia-Soto was killed and four people were injured in a pickup crash on Interstate 30 in Little Rock.

Authorities say the incident happened around 7:30 a.m. on I-30 East near mile marker 128. Preliminary investigation suggests a Ford F-250 pickup truck was traveling in lane 1 of the roadway when the driver, 30-year-old Jose Sergio, claimed the truck had steering problems. He lost control and the pickup hit a crash attenuator, then caught fire.

Mejia-Soto, a passenger in the pickup, was fatally injured. Jose Sergio and the pickup's three other passengers suffered unspecified injuries and were taken to an area hospital.

No further information is available at this time.

Commentary on Vicente Mejia-Soto Accident on I-30E in Little Rock

If reports have their facts straight and the driver was telling the truth, it seems like the pickup truck had some kind of mechanical issue that took the driver's control away. If that's true then some may regard this accident as tragic but largely unavoidable. I certainly agree about the sad misfortune of the passenger's death, but I'm not so sure I agree with calling it "unavoidable."

If police don't find evidence suggesting a different cause for the crash then there may be further investigation needed to find out exactly why the truck's steering allegedly failed. If something from the road kicked up into the undercarriage and messed up the hydraulics there may not be much recourse, but what makes situations like this complex--and why police investigation alone may not be enough--is the possibility of a manufacturing defect.

Vicente Mejia-Soto Killed, Four Injured in Crash on I-30E in Little Rock, AR

While not particularly common, manufacturing defects can cause various vehicle parts to fail during normal use. That could take different forms, but ultimately something about the part isn't properly fabricated or assembled and it then gives way during standard use. It's one thing if road debris damages a hydraulic line, but it's another thing entirely if steering fails due to poor design or manufacture. Under those circumstances the part's manufacturer may be considered liable for a crash caused by their faulty product.

Investigating whether that was involved and distinguishing a defect from other steering failures can be pretty complex and requires particular tools and forensic training. Police departments rarely perform full accident reconstruction or forensic vehicle analysis, though, and don't invest many of their resources in training officers to make heads or tails of why a truck part failed. In most cases where vehicular defects might be involved, I suggest enlisting the help of independent investigators who have the right equipment and know-how to properly examine the issue and find some answers. At the very least, those affected deserve to know that every effort was made to gather all the facts of the matter.

If defective steering really was the cause of this crash, its manufacturer may have a duty to help anyone damaged by that defective part. Moreover, that's an important issue to address so the manufacturer can recall steering assemblies from that production run, or else risk thousands of other vehicles crashing in the same way.

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