Omar de la Cruz, Erisbel Cid Killed in Truck Accident on I-40 in Smith County, TN
Smith County, TN -- April 28, 2022, Omar de la Cruz and Erisbel Cid were killed in a tractor-trailer accident on Interstate 40 in Smith County.
Authorities say the incident happened Thursday on westbound I-40 near mile marker 254, outside of Cookeville. Preliminary investigation suggests traffic was slowed in the area due to construction. De la Cruz and Cid approached the traffic in a commercial 18-wheeler; reportedly not realizing the vehicles ahead were slowed or stopped, the driver crashed the truck into a second big rig operated by 68-year-old Gene Lundgren.
De la Cruz and Cid were fatally injured in the crash. Lundgren received non-life-threatening injuries.
No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Truck Accident on Avenal Cutoff Rd in Kings County
When folks see a crash where a truck plows into slowed or stopped traffic, they tend to think the driver made a serious mistake like falling asleep or getting distracted by their phone. That kind of behavior is often responsible for these crashes, but it's still important to look into other possibilities as well. Mechanical issues in the truck, road hazards or improper design, or driver medical emergencies can't be ruled out without a proper investigation. Fingers shouldn't be point prematurely and the driver deserves the benefit of the doubt while the investigation continues.
While looking further into the accident it's also important to consider what may happen afterward. Depending on what's learned about the tragic I-40 crash the truck driver's family will probably receive some assistance from their state's workers' compensation program. However, the same might not be true for the passenger's loved ones. That bears some further consideration.
Investigators must learn why the passenger was in the truck that day. If they were a fellow employee and were working at the time, their family may be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits as well. However, if they were simply along for the ride--a friend, family member, or even just a hitchhiker--and not employed by the driver's company, then the family may have grounds to make a wrongful death claim against that company for the loss of their loved one.
There are some circumstances where workers' comp might not apply even if the passenger was a company employee--for instance, if they weren't officially "on the clock," doing something else in their off-time or napping in the truck's sleeper berth. If they were technically off the clock according to the rules and standards of their employer, their loved ones may still have recourse against the company whose driver allegedly caused the fatal wreck.
Despite appearances, I don't bring all that up just to find someone to sue. I'm saying that commercial truck accidents are rarely simple and there are usually further implications to them. All their particulars must be learned through careful investigation. That typically requires efforts from independent accident reconstructionists who have the experience and equipment to make sure no important details slip through the cracks. Are the authorities in charge of this crash able to offer those resources?