• April 14, 2022

Janet and Eldon Shaffner Killed in Truck Accident on US-67 in Pocahontas, AR

Pocahontas, AR -- April 12, 2022, Janet and Eldon Shaffner were killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer on U.S. Highway 67 in Randolph County.

Authorities say the incident happened around 2:20 p.m. on US-67 near Broadway Street. Preliminary investigation suggests Janet Shaffner, 75, was driving a Ford vehicle north on the highway as a Peterbilt semi-truck was headed south in the same area. Reports indicate the Ford veered left for unknown reasons and passed through the center turn lane, then collided head-on with the Peterbilt in the inside southbound lane of the highway.

Janet Shaffner and Eldon Shaffner, 73, were fatally injured in the collision. It's unclear if the truck driver was injured.

No further information is available at this time.

Commentary on Janet and Eldon Shaffner Accident on US-67 in Pocahontas

Reports suggest the victim of this crash may have triggered it by crossing left of center. Some may think there's not much else to say if that's the case, but it's important to remember that preliminary reports don't always have their facts straight and aren't the gospel truth of a crash. In a few cases I've even seen situations where police got things pretty much completely wrong at the scene.

I recently worked on a similar wreck where a victim supposedly crossed the center line and fatally crashed with a big rig. We looked more closely on behalf of the victim's family and learned the victim was in the oncoming lane to escape the truck, which had crossed over first. It turned out the trucker fell asleep and left his lane, only to wake up to the victim's frantic horn-honking and swerve sharply back on-course--and back into the victim's path.

The victim couldn't evade the truck a second time, but they certainly weren't to blame for the collision. Because police found both vehicles in the truck's lane when they got there, though, they said the victim crossed over. There were no witnesses but the sleepy trucker, who felt no urge to set the record straight. If we hadn't looked again the wrong person, unable to tell their side of the story, might have taken the blame forever.

Janet and Eldon Shaffner Killed in Truck Accident on US-67 in Pocahontas, AR

That situation was pretty unusual, and I'm not saying the Pocahontas wreck was identical. Even if authorities are sure the victim crossed over first, though, there's still the question of why. Some may reflexively blame texting, speeding, or some other common factors, but there are many other reasons someone might lose control. Could the Ford have blown a tire, or had a mechanical failure? What about the driver--did she have some kind of incapacitating medical issue? Those may not be as common as distracted or careless driving, but they and other possibilities can't be dismissed without proper investigation.

The takeaway here should be that things aren't always as straightforward as they first appear and police reports can contain mistakes or omit important details. That's why I often suggest working with independent accident reconstruction experts who can devote the proper time and care to finding all the facts of crashes like this one. At the very least, the victims' loved ones deserve to know every effort was made to find the whole truth of the matter.

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