• May 13, 2022

Martha Rodriguez Killed, Three Injured in Truck Accident on I-90 near Worthington, MN

Nobles County, MN -- May 11, 2022, 30-year-old Martha Rodriguez was killed and three men were injured when a tractor-trailer rear-ended a car on Interstate 90 near Worthington.

Authorities say the incident happened around 6:00 p.m. along I-90 during severe thunderstorms. Preliminary investigation suggests 37-year-old Diego Campos was driving a Chevrolet hatchback east along the road with three other weather experts, chasing storms. The car stopped in the road to avoid hitting a downed power line; while it was stopped it was hit from behind by an 18-wheeler.

Rodriguez was killed in the collision. Campos and the car's two other storm-chasing passengers, 42-year-old Bradford Barrett and 33-year-old Aldo Viscarra-Avilez, were transported to area hospitals with serious injuries. The semi driver who ran into the car was unhurt.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Martha Rodriguez et al Accident on I-90 near Worthington

This accident contains some unusual details, but what I tend to focus on more is the part where a commercial truck crashed into a stopped car on the roadway. While far more common than the parts about the victims being storm-chasers, there are still a number of important questions to address about that. For instance: How long was the car stopped in the road before the big rig came along? Were its lights on? What was visibility like in the area? How fast was the truck traveling? Was the truck driver paying attention to his surroundings? And a big one: If winds were strong enough to knock over power poles and tear out trees, and a dangerous thunderstorm blanketed the area, why was the truck even still on the road?

Martha Rodriguez Killed, Three Injured in Truck Accident on I-90 near Worthington, MN

I can't speak to the motives of storm chasers, whether they're academically interested (as the people in this case seemed to be) or just thrill-seekers, but they are generally allowed to make their own decisions about whether they want to travel in or near bad weather. However, professional truck drivers are a different issue.

In severe weather or other dangerous conditions, those drivers are required by federal law to slow down significantly or even stop until it's safe to continue. If a truck plowed into the car--which only stopped because power lines were down across its path, something else the truck driver seemingly should have been aware of--during a bad storm, I can't help but wonder if the commercial driver was acting as a reasonably prudent professional should have. If not, he may be at fault and then his employer would have some amends to make to those storm-chasers. Dangerous weather or not, it wasn't the storm that caused serious (and in one case fatal) injuries to those people.

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