• June 07, 2022

Jocelyn Ortega Killed, Two Injured by Semi-Truck on I-45 in Leona, TX

Leona, TX — June 6, 2022, 27-year-old Jocelyn Ortega died and two firefighters were injured when a semi-truck crashed into an accident scene on I-45 in Leon County.

Authorities say the incident happened Monday afternoon along I-45 near mile marker 157. Preliminary investigation suggests a Centerville Volunteer fire crew was assisting with a minor crash in Leona when an International 18-wheeler approached, disregarding the emergency vehicles' lights. The truck driver managed to steer clear of the fire truck but hit two firefighters and the parked vehicles involved in the first crash.

After the impact the truck rolled on top of Ortega's vehicle, causing her fatal injuries. The two firefighters hit by the truck, Colton Adams and Clint Franklin, were airlifted to area hospitals. Adams' injuries were said to be serious but Franklin was treated and released the same day.

The accidents remain under investigation. No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Truck Accident on I-45 in Leona

UPDATE (June 30, 2022): Later reports about this incident suggest the truck driver was charged with criminally negligent homicide after the incident on I-45. Investigators believe he may have been distracted while talking on a cell phone when he approached the scene.

Some may feel that's reason enough to throw the book at him, but there may be more to what happened than they realize. It's not necessarily enough to learn the driver was on his phone; it's also important to find out who he was talking to.

Jocelyn Ortega Killed, Two Injured by Semi-Truck on I-45 in Leona, TX

I'll give you an example from a while back that shows why that detail is important: I worked on a crash where a truck driver was texting and driving when he caused a wreck. That may seem pretty close to open-and-shut on its own, but we learned he was actually texting his supervisor. So why did that change things?

Put simply, there's a big difference between a driver acting up for purely selfish reasons and one doing something wrong against his will. In the case I mentioned, the driver's supervisor was unreasonably concerned about "time theft" among the drivers. He essentially threatened to terminate them on the spot if they didn't immediately respond to the numerous texts and calls he made throughout the day. Being on the road was no excuse in his eyes, so when drivers had to pick up the phone while in motion it was inevitable someone would get hurt.

Did that excuse the truck driver? Hardly, but it cast his actions in a different light and showed that his phone use was a symptom of a larger issue that needed fixing. With what we learned we made the company stop that supervisor's unsafe behavior as well as getting the crash victims the help they deserved.

There's no specific reason to think anything similar happened in Leona, but I often see folks jump to conclusions when the facts seem clear--just to find they don't have all the information yet. Even less-experienced attorneys make similar mistakes, which is a crash this serious should be addressed by experienced professionals.


ORIGINAL: The way this wreck is described it's hard to see a way the truck driver wouldn't be to blame. An active crash scene with multiple responding agencies including state troopers and a whole fire crew means there would be emergency vehicles--at least one of them a full-size fire engine--at the scene in broad daylight. That's about as visible as something gets without a neon billboard next to it. So what gives? Why did the truck hit the crash scene?

That's best answered by further investigation. Sure we could speculate about driver distraction or the truck's brakes failing, but making guesses isn't particularly helpful compared to rounding up clear evidence. Moreover, a careful analysis of the crash is probably best to make sure only clear facts ultimately tell the story. That gets rid of some opportunity for "creative" interpretations of what happened should the trucking company try to defend its driver and itself down the road.

I'm not claiming to know exactly how things went here, but someone lost her life and two of Centerville's Bravest were hurt in what sounds a lot like an avoidable accident. If that's right then someone should answer for the damage done, but ensuring they do so will likely take a great deal more work.

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