LVMPD Det. Justin Terry Killed by Falling Metal Beam on US-95 in Las Vegas, NV
UPDATE (June 15, 2022): Reports have identified the victim of this accident as 45-year-old Detective Justin Terry.
Las Vegas, NV — June 10, 2022, a LVMPD officer died after a construction beam fell on his vehicle on US. Highway 95 in Las Vegas.
According to reports the incident happened Friday morning along US-95 at the Centennial Parkway exit. Preliminary investigation suggests a tractor-trailer was carrying a large piece of construction equipment south on the freeway when it hit a metal beam while traveling beneath an overpass. The impact knocked the beam down and it landed on the victim's sedan, which was traveling behind the truck.
The car's driver, later confirmed to be a Las Vegas Metro Police officer, was pronounced dead at the scene. The truck driver reportedly cooperated with investigators.
The investigation continues. No further information is available at this time.
Commentary on Metal Beam Accident on US-95 in Las Vegas
People may read the early reported details about this accident and assume that, while tragic, the course ahead is pretty clear: The truck driver is to blame for having cargo tall enough to hit that beam, which means his employer should accept responsibility for the victim's death and try to make amends with his family.
In reality, however, things are almost never that simple. For a start, there are a number of variables--some obvious and some less so--that must be addressed. How fast was the truck traveling? Was the driver awake, alert, and paying full attention? Were they distracted in some way when approaching the overpass? Does signage clearly say the bridge's clearance height? Was the truck driver aware of his cargo's height? What were visibility and light conditions like at the time?
Besides simply learning all the facts of the crash to reach a better understanding, that information is most often necessary to be sure someone is held properly responsible for the damage done. Without it the victim's loved ones may be unhappily surprised when the truck driver's employers and their insurers dispute blame for as long as they can.
In this incident, for example, Nevada DOT spokesmen said the beam was meant to be an early-warning sign that a truck's cargo was too tall for the bridge. In a sense that means the beam was put up deliberately to be hit the way it was, which the trucking company might argue means NDOT is responsible for any damage it caused when it fell (nevermind that the alternative might have been tons of falling steel and concrete if the cargo hit the bridge itself).
One of the big reasons I write this blog is because I want people to know how complex accidents can be long before they ever need that information--or, if it's too late for prevention, to help them understand what they may have to do afterward to get help and justice. Whatever the proximate cause of this accident was and whoever's responsible for it, finding out both of those things will take careful investigation from experienced professionals.