• September 09, 2022

Juan Gonzalez-Saldana and Family Injured in Crossover Crash on US-50 in Stafford County, KS

Stafford County, KS— September 6, 2022, Juan Gonzalez-Saldana and his family were injured in a head-on crash with a pickup truck on US-50 in Stafford County.

Authorities say the incident happened shortly before 9:40 a.m. on US-50 near mile marker 195.5, roughly three miles outside St. John. Preliminary investigation suggests James Estes, 47, was driving a GMC Sierra pickup west on the highway as Gonzalez-Saldana, 36, was eastbound in a Dodge Charger.

Investigators believe Estes drifted left of center in the pickup and crashed into the Charger head-on.

Gonzalez-Saldana and his passengers--Lucia Velez, 41, and three children ages 15, 12, and 5--were taken to an area hospital for evaluation and treatment of suspected serious injuries. Estes was taken to another hospital with suspected minor injuries.

No further information is currently available.

Juan Gonzalez-Saldana, Lucia Velez, 3 Children Injured in Crossover Crash on US-50 in Stafford County, KS

Commentary on Juan Gonzalez-Saldana Accident in Stafford County

People may read about this accident and blame the crossover driver without much further thought. They may conclude that he made some kind of mistake, whether they think it was driving while distracted, falling asleep at the wheel, or even being intoxicated (unlikely as that is on a Tuesday morning).

Further investigation may reach the same conclusion, but it's also possible that something out of the crossover driver's control made the pickup go left of center. Unfortunately, police aren't always thorough enough to catch onto the harder-to-detect issues, like mechanical failures or defects sending a vehicle out of control.

The point of investigating thoroughly isn't to find ways to excuse the at-fault driver, but rather to ensure that anyone else responsible for the damage done is also held accountable. For instance, the vehicle defects I mentioned above could mean the bad parts' manufacturer would be liable for the crash--and also that a recall may be urgently needed to keep similar wrecks from happening in the future.

If police overlook or neglect less-likely possibilities they may reach faulty conclusions, which can interfere with victims and families getting answers and help. It's often best for independent investigators to have another look and make sure nothing slipped between the cracks.

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