Laura Whitfill Killed; Benjamin Whitfill, Child Injured in 3-Vehicle Crash in Hardin County, TX
Hardin County, TX — August 6, 2022, 36-year-old Laura Whitfill died and two people were injured in a three-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 96 in Hardin County.
According to reports the incident happened around 1:00 p.m. on US-96 near Andover Drive, between Lumberton and Silsbee. Preliminary investigation suggests 41-year-old Benjamin Whitfill was driving a Kia Soul north on the highway when he slowed for a vehicle ahead of him as it turned right.
A GMC pickup behind the Kia swerved onto the improved shoulder but then veered left, crashing into the Soul's side. The impact pushed the Kia partially into the left lane, where it was hit by a Peterbilt tractor-trailer trying to pass the stopped vehicles and avoid a crash.
Kia passenger Laura Whitfill was pronounced dead at the scene. Benjamin Whitfill and an 8-year-old child in the Kia were taken to a Beaumont hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries. The GMC truck driver was also transported to a hospital. The Peterbilt driver was unhurt.
The investigation is ongoing. No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Laura and Benjamin Whitfill Accident in Hardin County
Reports seem to have a fair handle on what happened here, but right now they seem to be a little short on explanations for why things went that way. Why did the GMC driver swerve onto the shoulder and back the way he did rather than just stopping like the victims and other drivers did? Did the Kia stop suddenly or without warning? Was the pickup driver awake, alert, and paying attention to the road? What about the Peterbilt driver? How closely was he following behind the other vehicles, and could or should he realistically have avoided hitting the victims' vehicle a second time?
People sometimes say I'm overcomplicating things when I write a bunch of questions in these commentaries, but the fact is most crashes are a great deal more complex than a few simple sentences in the news make them sound. There are many details either unreported or (more likely) undiscovered about what happened here, and those are crucial to ensure both that the crash is properly understood and that its victims receive the help they deserve.
Without clear facts supported by indisputable evidence, there's a lot of room for misunderstandings and confusion. If police don't plan to properly connect all the dots to be sure the victims have what they need, maybe independent investigators should step in and do a more thorough job.