Kineaka Solitaire, Passenger Killed in Crash with 18-Wheeler on I-35E in Denton, TX
UPDATE (May 3, 2022): The victim of this accident has been identified as 21-year-old Kineaka Solitaire. Her 19-year-old passenger has not yet been identified by sources.
Denton, TX -- April 13, 2022, two people were killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer on Interstate 35E in Denton.
Authorities say the incident happened shortly before 9:55 a.m. on the 3600 block of southbound I-35E near the State School Road overpass. Preliminary investigation suggests a Freightliner tractor-trailer was southbound in the #3 lane of the roadway when the driver slowed for traffic ahead. Some distance behind the truck and one lane to the right, a Honda Accord with two occupants was approaching the same stopped traffic. Reports say the Honda driver tried to make an abrupt lane change to the left because her lane was a marked exit from the highway. The Honda merged quickly into the #3 lane and struck the back of the 18-wheeler, getting wedged underneath. Video footage from the truck reportedly confirmed the reported series of events.
After extracting the car firefighters found its two occupants with no signs of life.
No further information is available at this time.
Commentary on Kineaka Solitaire Accident on I-35E in Denton
Many people misunderstand rear-end collisions as simple matters where the rear driver is always to blame. Reading the reports about this crash probably paints a picture to that effect if the victim made a quick lane change to avoid exiting, but it's always important to consider the full context of an accident. It's not always just about who hit whom, but may also have considerations about whether the damage could have been avoided or lessened somehow. To that end, prudent investigators will also look into other factors that may have made a crash worse than it had to be.
That would probably include looking at things like the victim's speed, if the big rig ahead was actually stopped or just braked suddenly near the traffic, if the road had any hazards, what other nearby vehicles were doing, and many other elements. Another detail that often goes unchecked is whether the 18-wheeler had an intact underride guard or Mansfield bar--a bar of welded metal beneath its trailer.
The bar could be mistaken for a step to get inside, but it's actually required safety equipment designed to mitigate rear-end collisions. While it can't deflect every incoming crash, its purpose is to keep vehicles from going underneath the trailer during a rear-end collision as the car reportedly did in Denton. That simple measure can keep a serious crash from becoming fatal.
Sometimes underride guards become far less useful if trucking companies don't maintain them. Budget-conscious firms sometimes delay repairs and maintenance checks, particularly on "non-essential" parts of the truck like underride guards. I was actually approached once by a frustrated trucker who secretly recorded his supervisor telling drivers to spray-paint over rusted guards instead of replacing them. That particular firm ended up having a laundry list of similar "shortcuts" it used to keep dangerous trucks on the road.
I'm not saying anything like that was involved in Denton. Reports don't say the truck driver did anything wrong or that the truck was in bad shape, and I'm certainly not jumping to any such conclusions. My point is just that many additional factors beyond "who hit whom" must be accounted for after a collision like this. People read about someone rear-ending a big rig and think "case closed," but without looking at all the possible issues the investigation isn't complete. The victims' loved ones deserve to know the whole story.