Freddie Bouchelle Killed in Crash with Guardrail on I-71 in Cleveland, OH
Cleveland, OH — November 1, 2022, 46-year-old Freddie Bouchelle was killed in a collision with a guardrail on Interstate 71 in Cleveland.
Authorities say the incident happened Tuesday along I-71. Preliminary investigation suggests Bouchelle was driving a Ford vehicle, possibly at high speeds, when he lost control for unknown reasons. The Ford traveled off the right side of the road and hit the end of a guardrail. The rail then pierced the car and passed all the way through it; approximately 200 feet of rail went through the vehicle before it came to rest.
Bouchelle was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The crash is still under investigation. No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Freddie Bouchelle Accident in Cleveland
Both out loud and on this blog I have long been an advocate of ensuring that a second set of eyes looks at single-vehicle crashes to make sure no unusual or subtle details went unnoticed. Preliminary reports tend to paint a picture of drivers making mistakes that let to their injuries or deaths, and while in some cases that turns out to be true I've seen plenty of others where the victims were unfairly blamed.
Take the Cleveland accident above: Police seem to think the driver might have lost control and swerved out of his lane. That's certainly possible and I have no specific reason to doubt them, but do they know exactly why that happened--and did they consider possible explanations out of the driver's hands? Could the car simply have lost traction on a wet patch of road, or perhaps had a mechanical failure or defect that sent it off-course?
Furthermore, should the guardrail really have penetrated the car the way it did? Was it designed poorly, installed incorrectly, or improperly maintained? People may not recall a few years ago when industrial manufacturers responsible for thousands of miles' worth of guardrails were taken to court because the rails acted much like the one in Cleveland, penetrating vehicles like spears instead of slowing or stopping them as intended. Was the rail along I-71 among those thought to be improperly designed?
Common or not, investigators must account for further factors like these when possible. If they aren't careful and thorough when getting to the bottom of the crash and the injuries that followed, there's a risk that the whole story may never come to light. The victim's loved ones deserve no less than the truth.