Craig and Jane Wissel Killed in Truck Accident on US-41 in Vincennes, IN
Vincennes, IN — December 19, 2022, 68-year-olds Craig and Jane Wissel died in a collision with a tractor-trailer on U.S. Highway 41 in Knox County.
Authorities say the incident happened around 6:40 p.m. on US-41 at Industrial Park Boulevard in Vincennes. Preliminary investigation suggests a westbound 18-wheeler on Industrial Park started to turn onto the southbound highway but stopped due to southbound traffic, causing its trailer to block the highway's northbound lanes. The Wissels' northbound Toyota van then collided with the semi-trailer in the roadway.
Craig and Jane Wissel, both reportedly wearing seat belts, died in the collision. The truck driver was unhurt.
The investigation continues. No further information is available at this time.
Commentary on Craig and Jane Wissel Accident in Vincennes
If reports have their facts straight it seems like the semi-truck driver blocked the roadway while waiting to turn. If so, many might assume little else is needed to hold him (and by extension his employer) responsible for the subsequent crash and the victims' fatal injuries. Even though reports seem to point that direction, though, neither the driver nor his company are obligated to admit fault. In fact it's a safer bet they'll dispute it as hard as they can--which could take some surprising forms.
Not long ago I worked on a crash similar to the one in Indiana: An 18-wheeler pulled out of a side street into the main road, failing to yield the right-of-way to an approaching car and causing a serious collision with severe injuries to the car's driver. Reports said the trucker was at fault and the victim assumed that would be enough to seek help from the company, but when he approached them about making things right they had other ideas.
Instead of making amends the company pointed the finger back at him, claiming he was speeding and also wasn't wearing a seat belt when the vehicles crashed. The company's attorneys didn't deny their driver failed to yield, but instead said the victim's injuries were more directly caused by his own negligent behavior. Cold-blooded? Certainly, but left unchecked those arguments could have helped the company escape its liability. People aren't always aware they have to prove their side of the story with clear evidence, and showing up empty-handed or relying on simple "common sense" as their only tool means the defense often successfully invents other explanations for what happened.
That's when the victim reached out to us for help. Our accident reconstructionists closely analyzed evidence from the crash and determined the victim wasn't speeding at the time. Additionally, we spoke with all of the EMS responders that worked to save his life and they agreed they had to cut through his fastened seat belt before they could get him out of the car. With that and other evidence we dismantled the trucking company's arguments; after a few more attempts to deflect liability, it finally cooperated.
The crash in Knox County and the one I just described obviously aren't identical, but one thing that's almost certain after virtually every commercial wreck is that victims must anticipate trucking company and insurance defense tactics and be ready to counter them. Preliminary reports--no matter how clear-cut they may seem--typically aren't enough, so will steps be taken here to get answers and help for the people who need them?