Lt. Philip Wigal Killed, Trooper Steven Hill Injured in Truck Accident in Wayne County, OH
Wayne County, OH -- April 11, 2022, Lt. Philip Wigal was killed and Trooper Steven Hill was injured in an accident where a semi struck emergency vehicles.
Authorities reported that the crash took place in the afternoon hours of Monday along I-71 near Route 301.
In their reports, officials said that fire department and police responders were on the scene of a previous crash along the southbound lanes of the interstate. While there, a tractor-trailer somehow crashed into a fire engine, then hit one of the Highway Patrol vehicles.
In the collision, the truck hit firefighter Lt. Philip Wigal, who ultimately succumbed to the resulting injuries. State Trooper Steven Hill sustained reportedly non-life-threatening injuries.
At this time, additional details surrounding the crash are unavailable.
Commentary on Lt. Philip Wigal, Trooper Steven Hill Truck Accident in Wayne County
Any fatal crash is devastating to see, but anytime our emergency responders pay the ultimate price while out there serving the public is just beyond words. Clearly there need to be answers about what went wrong here. How someone could fail to avoid large, visible emergency response vehicles raises serious concerns about what that driver was doing at the time. Perhaps there were extenuating circumstances here that will show the truck driver was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Otherwise, if a mistake led to this tragedy, understanding exactly why that mistake happened will be crucial.
Here's why I say that. There can be vastly different consequences following a deadly truck wreck even if the truck driver caused the accident. This is because a mistake is not always an isolated incident. A mistake can sometimes be a sign there are more serious problems.
Let's just say, for example, that these events occurred because the truck driver was on their phone. If they had a clean history, were properly trained, and just had a lapse in judgment, then there would definitely need to be consequences. Those consequences, however, would likely be to the extent of that one mistake.
On the other hand, there could be a situation like one I handled recently where a driver texting behind the wheel was the result of their employer's recklessness. The driver's supervisor would constantly call and text drivers all day. If the drivers didn't respond immediately, they risked losing their jobs. Naturally, these drivers were going to take risks on the road rather than risk the food they put on their family's table. It was just a matter of time before someone got hurt.
So why does that change things? Well, the first situation is incredibly serious but likely isolated. The second situation showed there was a company routinely putting the public at risk. Across the hundreds of people I've helped after commercial vehicle accidents, getting help was obviously a priority. Those people, however, also saw value in making sure people were held accountable such that other families wouldn't have to experience the same hardships.
That's why thorough investigations are so incredibly important after an accident like this. It's important to consider unlikely circumstances the truck driver may not have had control over. It's important that person and those responsible for them are held accountable if mistakes led to the crash. And those same people need to face the full extent of legal consequences if evidence shows they need to clean up their act before more people lose their lives.
These are all things that almost always require support from independent professionals that can supplement the work of the authorities and ensure nothing important slips through the cracks. The sooner there is a set of professional eyes on these details, the sooner the victims and families here can work toward a resolution.