• May 03, 2022

Cortney Hartman, Christopher Barrandey Killed in Truck Accident on NM-176 near Eunice

Eunice, NM -- April 28, 2022, Odessa couple Cortney Hartman and Christopher Barrandey were killed in a crash with two trucks on State Road 176 near Eunice.

Authorities say the incident happened Thursday afternoon on eastbound Route 176. Preliminary investigation suggests Hartman and Barrandey were in a Chevy Silverado, stopped for traffic near construction in the eastbound lanes. As they waited to proceed a Ford F-350 pulling a flatbed trailer rear-ended the Chevy, which pushed it into the back of a Peterbilt tractor-trailer ahead.

Hartman and Barrandey were pronounced dead at the scene. The Ford driver was taken to a Lubbock hospital for treatment of unknown injuries. The Peterbilt driver was unhurt.

The investigation continues but the wreck is not believed to be impairment-related.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Cortney Hartman, Christopher Barrandey Accident near Eunice

There are still some important details to work out here, not least of which is discovering why the Ford driver didn't slow or stop for traffic. Police seem to have ruled out impairment, which is a relief, but that still leaves other issues like distraction from a cell phone or some kind of vehicular failure keeping the driver from braking.

Another question that might fall by the wayside if police focus too tightly elsewhere is whether the Ford driver was on a job at the time. Just because he was driving a heavy-duty pickup and towing a trailer doesn't mean he was headed somewhere for work, but plenty of jobs use those pickups and trailers. But why does it even matter whether he was on someone's clock at the time? Because the law has some pretty specific views about an employer's obligations to the victims of a worker's negligence.

Put another way, when somebody hurts another person during the course and scope of their job that worker's employer may be liable for the victim's injuries. This is due to the concept of respondeat superior, or "let the master answer," a principle around since the seventeenth century. When reckless employees cause harm as they go about their work day, their employers may be held responsible for the damage done.

I'm getting ahead of myself here, though. While there may be a matter of professional negligence to address, it's possible the striking driver just has a big truck and was on a personal errand with the trailer. It's something to clarify as the investigation continues, though, as it may affect the rights of the victims' loved ones after this terrible incident.

Cortney Hartman, Christopher Barrandey Killed in Truck Accident on NM-176 near Eunice

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