Chelsea Valladares, Kelli Ingle Killed in Truck Accident on I-40 near Lupton, AZ
Lupton, AZ -- April 9, 2022, 21-year-old Chelsea Valladares and 22-year-old Kelli Ingle were killed in a crash with a tractor-trailer on Interstate 40 near Lupton.
Reports say the incident happened shortly after 11:00 p.m. on eastbound I-40 near the Arizona/New Mexico border. Preliminary investigation suggests the victims were in a passenger vehicle on the interstate when the driver drifted left for unknown reasons and the car hit a guardrail. It came to a stop at least partially blocking one travel lane and not long after it was hit by a commercial 18-wheeler.
The car's passenger was pronounced dead at the scene; the driver was transported to a Gallup, NM hospital where she later died. No other injuries were reported.
No further information is available at this time.
Commentary on Chelsea Valladares, Kelli Ingle Accident on I-40 near Lupton
With reports like these it's important to consider the exact series of events, their specific timing, and how avoidable they were. The victims' vehicle reportedly became disabled in the roadway; it's obviously important to learn how specifically that happened, but another issue to consider is whether the 18-wheeler driver could reasonably have avoided hitting it.
That may seem unfair to the trucker, and I'm not pointing fingers. However, there's a world of difference between a truck hitting a disabled car because the driver had no time or space to maneuver and that same collision happening because the trucker wasn't paying attention until it was too late. I worked on a crash not long ago, similar in some ways to the one near Lupton, where a truck hit someone's disabled car and killed the driver. The trucking company claimed their driver had no way to see or avoid the car at that time of night, but when we subpoenaed dashcam footage from the truck we found the car was clearly visible from at least a quarter mile away. The truck driver didn't see it until he was on top of it because he was watching shows on a tablet instead of the road.
With that evidence in hand we overcame the company's objections and secured help for the victim's family. However, that same footage could have shown the opposite--the car was almost invisible until it was much too late and the attentive truck driver really couldn't have done anything. In those circumstances it wouldn't have been right to say the trucker was responsible for what happened. People typically aren't liable for accidents they can't reasonably avoid. So was this crash just an unfortunate series of events starting with the victims' car losing control, or would a reasonably prudent truck driver have been able to avoid hitting it in the travel lanes? It will almost certainly take more thorough investigations to say for sure.