• August 10, 2022

Conor Nelis Killed; Madison Morgan, Justin Deutsch, Garrett Schaffner Injured in Cullman County, AL Accident

Cullman County, AL — August 9, 2022, 22-year-old Conor Nellis died and three people were injured when a dump truck hit a car on CR 222 in Cullman County.

According to reports the incident happened Tuesday on County Road 222 near Interstate 65, roughly a mile south of Good Hope. Preliminary investigation suggests Nelis was a passenger in a Ford Focus driven by 23-year-old Madison Morgan, that was hit under unknown circumstances by a Mack dump truck.

Nelis was pronounced dead at the scene. Morgan and two passengers in the Ford, 26-year-old Justin Deutsch and 26-year-old Garrett Schaffner, were transported to area hospitals for treatment of unspecified injuries. The truck driver was unhurt.

The crash remains under investigation. No further information is available at this time.

Commentary on Conor Nellis, Madison Morgan, Justin Deutsch, Garrett Schaffner Accident in Cullman County

There isn't a lot of information yet about how exactly this crash happened or what started it, but I'd say someone's fatal injuries more than warrant careful investigation. As police work to make sense of what happened, though, it's best not to jump to any conclusions.

Many potential factors still need to be evaluated: Possible driver mistakes like distraction or failure to yield, problems or defects in the involved vehicles, road conditions and design, visibility and sightlines, missing or unclear signage, inclement weather, other traffic in the area, and many other things that could have influenced the crash. Until those variables have been considered it's still anyone's guess how this tragedy unfolded.

The necessity of being so thorough is compounded due to where the crash occurred. Alabama is one of a only a few states that uses a ridiculous standard of liability called contributory negligence, which basically says that if a victim is at all responsible for their own injuries they lose any chance of holding the other person accountable. If a jury puts just 1% of the blame on the victim the whole case is thrown out. Successfully making a case in a "contrib" state isn't impossible, but it requires an airtight case supported by plenty of clear facts.

Of course, a "by the book" police investigation may not actually get to all those needed details before it reaches a conclusion. They only have so much time and so many resources to devote to a crash before their priorities pull them elsewhere. That's why after a major accident--particularly one involving a commercial truck--an independent investigation usually stands a better chance of learning the whole story. Whatever it is, everyone deserves all the answers they can get. Those answers would also help determine what other steps, if any, should be taken.

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