• August 22, 2022

Michael Mead Killed in Crash with Big Rig on CA-299 in Shasta County

UPDATE (September 9, 2022): Authorities have identified the victim of this accident as 69-year-old Michael Merlyn Mead.

Shasta County, CA — August 18, 2022, a man died in a crossover collision with a tractor-trailer near the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in Shasta County.

Reports say the incident happened around 11:55 a.m. on westbound State Highway 299, just east of JFK Memorial Drive close to Whiskeytown. Preliminary investigation suggests an SUV was traveling west on the highway when the driver lost control for unknown reasons and crossed over the center line. The SUV then collided with an eastbound 18-wheeler. One or both vehicles caught fire, which spread to nearby vegetation and triggered a blaze covering 36 acres.

The SUV driver died in the crash. The truck driver escaped his truck before the fire started and was unhurt.

No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Michael Mad Accident in Shasta County

Reports suggest the SUV driver crossed left of center and triggered this accident, but it's important to remember that preliminary findings are generally just "best guesses" after a little time at the scene. Many times officers' first impressions are correct, but I've also seen cases where they missed the mark entirely.

For instance, after a recent Texas truck accident police said the victim crossed the center line and caused the fatal wreck with a big rig. We looked again on his family's behalf and found evidence that the truck actually crossed over first. The driver fell asleep and drifted left, then swerved back when he hit the rumble strips. The victim, in the truck's lane to escape it in his, couldn't avoid it a second time. Police saw his car in the truck's lane and blamed him, and the trucker didn't correct their mistake.

I'm not saying anything like that happened in Shasta County, but even if police are sure who crossed over there's still the question of why. Reports say the driver lost control, but what caused that? Was he speeding? Texting? Or did something unusual happen, like a medical emergency? Did the SUV blow a tire or malfunction somehow? Was the road wet or in poor condition in that area? In the spirit of covering all the bases, could or should the truck driver have done something differently to avoid the oncoming car?

I'm not trying to complicate things or make accusations here. It's just best to consider all the possibilities instead of latching onto preliminary reports' simplified stories. Things are rarely as clear as a few sentences in the news make them seem. That's why I often suggest that independent experts take a second look and make sure nothing vital was missed. At the very least, the victim's family deserves to know every effort was made to learn the whole story. Any other steps beyond that would depend on what is learned.

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