Cole Thayer Killed in Truck Accident on US-50 in Lander County, NV
Lander County, NV — July 22, 2022, 22-year-old Cole Thayer died in a head-on collision with a tractor-trailer on U.S. Highway 50 in Lander County.
According to reports the incident happened around 4:25 p.m. on US-50 near mile marker 27, roughly 3 miles east of Austin. Preliminary investigation suggests a westbound Freightliner 18-wheeler was headed east on the highway when it allegedly entered a curve while traveling too fast. The truck crossed into the opposite lane and crashed head-on with a Thayer's eastbound Ford pickup, pushing it off the road.
Thayer suffered fatal injuries in the crash. The Freightliner driver was taken from the scene for treatment of suspected minor injuries.
The crash remains under investigation. No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Cole Thayer Accident in Lander County
Reports seem pretty straightforward in saying the commercial truck driver screwed up here. Speeding into a curve and losing control enough to cross left of center is a serious problem for any driver to make, but professional truckers are generally held to a higher standard of care when it comes to obeying the rules of the road.
It may sound like I think it would be a cinch to hold the trucker (and by extension their employer) accountable for the collision and the victim's tragic death. However, long experience in this field has taught me that few commercial vehicle accidents, no matter how clear they seem on paper, are that simple to resolve for victims and families. The default position of almost any company is to deny, dispute, and deflect responsibility wherever they can rather than accept it. That means pointing fingers at anything and everything aside from their driver.
People may not see how a company could excuse their driver crossing over the center line as the news says happened in Lander County, but I've cautioned many people not to underestimated defense attorneys' creativity.
Here's an example from another case I heard about: An 18-wheeler veered onto a highway's shoulder and fatally hit a man changing a flat tire on his pickup. His family's attorney thought those details were clear and damning enough to make litigation easy, so he didn't prepare for pushback in court.
The defense team caught him and the family completely off-guard by claiming the truck lost control due to a faulty part manufactured by a company overseas. Because the attorney didn't have the truck inspected and get clear evidence to the contrary, somehow that argument convinced the jury to put all of the blame on the part's manufacturer. After the trucking firm walked away free and clear the victim's family had little more than an empty chair to pursue for accountability.
Obviously that incident and the one in Lander County aren't identical, but one thing almost universally true in commercial wrecks is that the companies behind them will fight like hell against fault. The best--maybe the only--way to ensure they take responsibility for their employees' actions is to show up with so much indisputable proof of what happened that they have nowhere to go. Armed with clear evidence, many truck crash victims and their loved ones have held the right people accountable for their injuries and loss.