• September 20, 2022

Athish Nagarajan, Dhinesh Nagarajan, Gnanappan Nagarajan, Vijaya Lakshmi-Gopal Killed in Tractor-Trailer Accident near Sedona, AZ

UPDATE (September 22, 2022): Sources released the names of the victims killed in the crash. They were said to be 24-year-old Athish Nagarajan, 23-year-old Dhinesh Nagarajan, 53-year-old Gnanappan Nagarajan, and 45-year-old Vijaya Lakshmi-Gopal. Additional details about the crash itself are unclear at this time.

Sedona, AZ -- September 18, 2022, four people were fatally injured after an accident where a semi-truck crashed into their car on Route 179.

Initial details say the crash happened at approximately 2:18 p.m. along State Route 179 at the I-17 interchange.

According to officials, a car was traveling northbound along State Route 179 past I-17. While doing so, a tractor-trailer on southbound I-17 careened off the exit and through a stop sign. The driver told authorities his brakes failed. As a result, the truck crashed into the northbound vehicle, causing the vehicles to catch fire.

Four people from the passenger vehicle died as a result of the collision. Authorities have not yet identified the victims. Right now, additional details surrounding the crash are unavailable.

Commentary on Athish Nagarajan, Dhinesh Nagarajan, Gnanappan Nagarajan, Vijaya Lakshmi-Gopal Tractor-Trailer Accident in Sedona

I'm going to be blunt here because loss of life this devastating doesn't leave much room for mincing words. Put simply, it is pretty damn unlikely this crash happened without the truck driver or their employer (if they have one) doing something wrong. Why is that? I'll go over what, in my experience, are the least to most likely explanations of what causes a fatal truck wreck like this. If nothing else, it may help folks understand why a crash like this warrants immediate and thorough independent accident reconstructions.

First of all, it's entirely possible this was some unforeseeable tragedy. Brakes can sometimes be defective, and truck drivers, their companies, and even mechanics may not catch the issue before it's too late. I would never rule out something like a manufacturing defect without clear evidence, and I don't see why this accident would be an exception.

Athish Nagarajan, Dhinesh Nagarajan, Gnanappan Nagarajan, Vijaya Lakshmi-Gopal Killed in Tractor-Trailer Accident near Sedona, AZ

Secondly, a more likely explanation with details like these is that the brake failure simply never happened. It is not unusual for a truck driver, facing what is no doubt the most serious mistake they've ever made or will ever make, to outright lie about what happened. Was the driver on their phone? Did they fall asleep? Were they just being reckless or inattentive? These, too, need to be considered by experienced investigators.

Finally, the more likely explanation here is that the brakes did fail, but it was a foreseeable and avoidable event. Brake failure is usually the result of misuse and lack of maintenance. Sometimes, truck drivers don't know how to properly manage their brakes, causing them to overheat. Other times, companies have poor business practices like overloading cargo, putting unreasonable amounts of stress on the brakes. Other times still, some truck drivers, knowingly or not, are forced to work in dangerous conditions because their negligent employers would rather penny pinch than conduct necessary repairs. As a result, truck drivers trying to provide for their families end up behind the wheel of ticking time bombs. Could it be something like that happened here?

At the end of the day, it's probably a one in a billion shot that no one could have seen this coming or done something to prevent. Now, four people are dead. Their loved ones deserve to know every possible step is being taken to get them answers so they can see some accountability for the event that tore their life apart. Frankly, waiting around for the authorities isn't likely to cover all of the possibilities I discussed here. It's more likely that independent professionals with more experience and higher quality tools will need to get access to the truck and find out exactly what went wrong and who's responsible.

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