Abraham Mbo Jr., Marion Mikulenka, Maria Higareda Injured in Multi-Vehicle Crash in Houston, TX
Houston, TX -- March 25, 2022, Abraham Mbo Jr., Marion Mikulenka, and Maria Higareda were injured in a multi-vehicle crash on Sam Houston Tollway in Houston.
Authorities say the incident happened around 9:00 a.m. on the tollway near mile marker 690. Preliminary investigation suggests a Toyota Tundra was traveling north on the tollway when a load of metal signs in its bed became unsecured and fell into the road's travel lanes. The pickup pulled onto the shoulder and its driver and passengers jumped out to try and recover the signs.
While cresting a hill just before the area where the signs were scattered, several drivers were unable to spot it in the road until it was too late to act. Abraham Mbo's Nissan Quest arrived first and hit a sign, then came to rest in the middle travel lane. Higareda's Kia Sorento crested the hill next and struck Mbo's vehicle from behind, pushing it into the right barrier wall. The Kia came to rest where the Nissan had previously been.
Next over the hills was a Volvo VNR tractor-trailer. The driver reportedly tried to take evasive action to miss the signs but rear-ended the Kia in the process, pushing it into the barrier wall near the Nissan. The big rig then jackknifed left and crashed into Marion Mikulenka's Toyota Avalon in the left travel lane. The car and truck veered left and hit the median barrier, where the Toyota overturned on its driver side.
Abraham Mbo Jr. (51), Marion Mikulenka (84), and Maria Higareda (48) all suffered serious injuries in the collision. The truck driver and the occupants of the Toyota Tundra that lost the metal signs were not reported as hurt.
No further information is available at this time.
Commentary on Multi-Vehicle Crash on Sam Houston Twy in Houston
An accident like this can be pretty complex, which may surprise some people. After all, police said that the crash happened because cargo fell off of a trailer; doesn't that mean the truck driver and his company are automatically responsible? It's a little premature to connect those dots, as there are a few other considerations.
For one, the people in the truck carrying the signs can still deny responsibility. Whether they genuinely feel they aren't to blame or just don't want to be held accountable, they can defend themselves by saying they secured the cargo but something else knocked it loose. If they were so inclined they could even say the victims were actually hurt because they didn't react quickly or properly enough to the debris in their path, or that being hit by one another was really the proximate cause of all their injuries.
That could seem heartless or even ridiculous considering how things reportedly happened, but the burden of proving it's false falls to the victims. That's why it's critical for victims affected by crashes like this to have ample proof of what precisely caused the accident and who's responsible.
To that end investigators must look into more than just the people hauling those signs from A to B, as they may not be the only ones to blame. Many heavy industries (manufacturing, construction, logistics) feel that "many hands make lighter work" and each handles part of a job. If the manufacturer or distributor of those metal signs actually loaded them onto the pickup but didn't tie them down right, it's possible they have a share of the liability for what happened to the victims on the tollway.
Because this is a legal blog people sometimes think I'm just looking for as many "bad guys" as possible, but that's never my point. The fact is several innocent people were hurt here, and that seems to trace back to negligence on one or more people's part. If someone's out there taking shortcuts, whether they're an individual or a company, they're putting lives at risk. Anyone behaving that way must be confronted and made to clean up their act. Holding one party accountable may be some progress, but it's less than ideal if another continues being reckless. It wouldn't be right for any party that had a hand in this crash to escape consequences.