• October 05, 2022

Driver Killed in Fiery Truck Accident on State Highway 22 near Gates, OR

Gates, OR — October 3, 2022, a truck driver died in a fiery single-vehicle accident on State Highway 22 east of Gates.

Authorities say the incident happened Monday night along OR-22 in the Santiam Canyon. Preliminary investigation suggests a Kenworth semi-truck was headed west on the roadway when it went out of control for unknown reasons. The truck ran off the road, passed over an embankment, and caught fire. It became fully engulfed and was destroyed.

The truck driver was fatally injured in the wreck.

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

Driver Killed in Fiery Truck Accident on State Highway 22 near Gates, OR

Commentary on Fiery Truck Accident on OR-22 near Gates

A common (but mistaken) opinion I often encounter is that solo wrecks must be the driver's fault. Texting, falling asleep, speeding, or other reckless behavior are often prematurely blamed as people look for a simple explanation.

It's true that operator errors must be considered by investigators, but plenty of things out of the driver's control could have played parts as well. Poor road conditions or too steep a curve/grade in the canyon could have sent the truck off-course, for example, or it could have blown a tire. That's just a couple of many possible issues that must be carefully evaluated.

Even if the crash truly couldn't have been avoided, though, there's still the question of whether its aftermath had to be so dire--for instance, whether the truck should have caught fire. People don't always realize that the exposure of a truck's "saddle" gas tanks mean they often rupture during a crash and turn an already-serious situation into a tragic one, all of which could have been avoided with some changes to their design or manufacture.

Because this is a legal blog people sometimes think I'm just looking for "bad guys" to blame, but that's not the point. Someone died while doing their job, and it's only right to find out how and why that tragedy unfolded. Further investigation might show they just made a mistake, but it could also show their fatal injuries were due to someone else's negligence. If that's true then they should be held accountable for their part in a family's terrible loss.

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