• May 25, 2022

Gary Varner, Richard Cook, Two Others Injured in Truck Accident near Chillicothe, MO

Chillicothe, MO -- May 23, 2022, four people were injured when a pickup truck and a tractor-trailer collided on Highway 36 near Chillicothe.

Authorities say the incident happened Monday afternoon on Highway 36, roughly three miles east of town. Preliminary investigation suggests the pickup and the Freightliner semi-truck were headed east on the highway. The pickup driver, 24-year-old Gary Varner, reportedly tried to overtake the big rig; at the same time the truck driver, 59-year-old Richard Cook, started to make a left turn onto a nearby local road. The big rig crossed the center line during the turn and collided with the pickup.

Varner, Cook, and two passengers in the pickup truck reportedly sustained minor injuries in the crash and were taken by ambulance to a Chillicothe hospital.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Gary Varner, Richard Cook Accident near Chillicothe

If reports have their facts straight here it seems like arguments could be made by either driver that the other was at fault. Resolving whose actions were more likely the proximate cause of the wreck would probably require further, more careful investigation.

Some may think that's not really necessary since everyone's injuries were described as minor. I hope reports have that part right, of course, but I've also worked on a number of cases where early assessments didn't really grasp what happened to the victims. With all due respect to first responders, sometimes what they see at the scene isn't really the full breadth of the damage.

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I once worked on a case where a big rig rear-ended our client and he thought he only got a sore back out of it, only to find out within a couple of weeks that he had spinal trauma--a ruptured disk that caused him enormous pain. The injury's true nature took a short while to show, but at first he and everyone else thought it was negligible. He ended up needing major surgery and lengthy rehab for it, though, all while the at-fault trucking company and insurers argued against giving him the help he needed. When all was said and done very little about his experience was "minor."

I'm not saying the Missouri wreck will end up the same way, and there's no particular reason to think it would. I only mean to say that in case things aren't quite what they seem it's important to take a truck accident seriously from the start. That means investigating it carefully and finding clear evidence of what really occurred, all to be sure that the right parties are held accountable if needed. "Better safe than sorry," as they say, and these crashes are no exception.

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