• September 07, 2022

Michael Wiggins Killed in Wrong-Way Crash on Highway 36 near Chillicothe, MO

Chillicothe, MO — September 1, 2022, 64-year-old Michael Wiggins died in a collision with a tractor-trailer on U.S. Highway 36 near Chillicothe.

Authorities say the incident happened Thursday night along US-36, roughly five miles west of town. Preliminary investigation suggests Wiggins was driving an SUV east in the westbound lanes of the highway, against traffic, when he collided with an oncoming Kenworth 18-wheeler driven by 33-year-old Chad Shelley. After the impact Wiggins' SUV overturned on its side and came to rest in the median.

Wiggins suffered fatal injuries in the wreck. No other injuries were reported. Both drivers were said to be wearing seat belts.

The investigation is ongoing. No further information is currently available.

Commentary on Michael Wiggins Accident near Chillicothe

Folks may see reports say the victim was traveling the wrong way on the road and think that the accident, while clearly tragic, may be largely of his own making. However, it's important not to jump to any conclusions before a full investigation is completed and the facts are found.

While it's true the driver mistakes like speeding or distraction often account for someone crossing left of center and driving the wrong way, there are other issues to consider that might mean the wreck was out of the victim's hands. Hard-to-see road markings, blind curves, medical emergencies, vehicular failures or defects...each of those and other potential factors must be properly evaluated.

I know some of those aren't particularly common causes for accidents like the one on US-36, but that doesn't mean they can be dismissed without due consideration. Consider the GM ignition switch fiasco of a few years ago: How many people were unfairly blamed for causing crashes before investigators found out about the defective part shutting off their vehicles' power?

All I'm saying is that the best thing to do is investigate carefully and thoroughly and be sure the whole story is known. The victim's loved ones deserve to know no stone was left unturned. Will that care be taken by law enforcement, or could independent investigators fill in more blanks?

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