Mark Fanning Killed, Cynthia Fanning Injured in I-81 Truck Accident near Staunton, VA
Staunton, VA — November 19, 2022, Mark Fanning died and Cynthia Fanning was injured in a collision with a tractor-trailer on Interstate 81 near Staunton.
Authorities say the incident happened shortly before 6:15 a.m. near the Interstate 81 and Interstate 64 interchange. Preliminary investigation suggests a westbound Mack 18-wheeler took the ramp from I-64 toward I-81 south but lost control and crashed through its guardrail. The truck then landed in the northbound lanes of I-81 and hit a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck.
Toyota passenger Mark Fanning, 76, died in the crash. Driver Cynthia Fanning, 58, and the truck driver Ronald Wenger were transported to area hospitals for treatment of serious injuries. Wenger was reportedly charged with reckless driving.
The crash remains under investigation. No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Mark and Cynthia Fanning Accident near Staunton
If reports have their facts straight it seems like the Fannings had little to nothing to do with this terrible incident. They were just minding their own business when a big rig came crashing down into them from the highway ramps, tragically ending one of their lives and altering the other's. Does that seem right or fair to anyone? I highly doubt it, and I expect most would agree that consequences should follow. However, that may not be as simple as it seems.
Police may have charged the truck driver, but I caution anyone against thinking that automatically translates to his employer accepting responsibility for the damage done. I've met many people who thought their situations were "open and shut" only to find that a trucking company had an arsenal of tricks and tactics to get itself out of trouble. In Virginia they have particular incentive to try and deflect blame, because its laws say someone who contributed even 1% to their accident is barred from making a claim. The victims may have been wholly innocent, but if the company can convince a jury that they did even the smallest thing wrong that could spell the end of its liability.
I'm not saying it's impossible to hold a trucking company responsible for its employees' bad deeds--far from it. I've proven time and again over the years that investigating carefully and building a clear case on the evidence found can make them do the right thing. However, police don't always put in the necessary work or care to find that evidence, which is why I often recommend getting help from private professionals.