• July 11, 2022

Stephen Harris Killed in Crash with 18-Wheeler off I-45 in Madisonville, TX

Madisonville, TX — July 8, 2022, 19-year-old Stephen Harris was killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer on the I-45 service road in Madison County.

According to reports the incident happened around 2:50 a.m. on the service road near State Highway 21. Preliminary investigation suggests Harris was driving a Dodge Ram pickup north on the road when he allegedly drifted out of his lane and crashed with the rear of a parked Freightliner 18-wheeler on the shoulder. Reports say the truck driver was outside the truck inspecting its tires at the time.

Harris was pronounced dead at the scene. No other injuries were reported.

No further information is available at this time.

Commentary on Stephen Harris Accident in Madisonville

Many folks believe that a stopped or parked vehicle can't really be responsible if a moving one hits it, particularly from behind. That may seem reasonable on its face but it's not actually accurate, which is why it's best to withhold judgment until investigators have a chance to properly evaluate what happened. It's clearly important to find out why the victim hit the stopped big rig, but it's also critical to learn why the truck was there at all.

Federal law is pretty specific about when and why a commercial truck can stop in or by a thru-way. According to the law a commercial driver should only pull over for emergencies like disabling vehicular failures or major medical issues. Moreover, once they stop they're required to put out cones or reflective triangles at 50-foot intervals behind the truck to warn approaching motorists--even if they're on the shoulder out of the regular flow of traffic.

Stephen Harris Killed in Crash with 18-Wheeler off I-45 in Madison County, TX

I don't know exactly how things happened in Madison County and I'm not pointing fingers at the truck driver. Preliminary reports aren't thorough enough to say why the truck stopped (though possible tire issues were mentioned) or what the driver did after pulling over. I'm just suggesting that investigators, whether police or independent experts acting on behalf of the victim's family, should try to fill in more blanks.

Rather than instantly pointing fingers, it's best to learn how all the crash's elements (parked truck, victim's actions, vehicle conditions, road quality, weather, visibility, other vehicles, etc) affected it. To that end, there should probably be a thorough examination by a skilled accident reconstructionist to learn the wreck's subtler details. At the very least that extra scrutiny could help provide more answers to the victim's family, who deserve all the answers they can get.

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