Teen Killed; Cameron McKittrick, Tracy Barger Injured in Logan County, AR Truck Accident
Logan County, AR — January 13, 2023, a teenager died and three people were injured when a tractor-trailer overturned on a car on State Highway 109 in Logan County.
Authorities say the incident happened around 11:45 a.m. along Highway 109 near Scranton. Preliminary investigation suggests Cameron McKittrick, 22, Tracy Barger, 21, and the teenager were in a northbound passenger car as an 18-wheeler was southbound nearby. Investigators believe the big rig's load shifted as it negotiated a curve; the trailer then overturned onto the northbound car.
The car's teen passenger was fatally injured in the accident. McKittrick, Barger, and the truck driver were all transported to an area hospital.
The investigation continues. No further information is currently available.
Whatever the further details revealed by a closer investigation, the detail that clearly stands out is that a commercial truck overturned onto a car. It's of the utmost importance to find answers about that as soon as possible. If investigators are right about the truck's cargo shifting in the curve, why did that happen? Did the driver do something wrong, or was the trailer loaded improperly? Could it be a combination of those? Maybe most importantly from the victims' perspective, how does one find answers to those and many other urgent questions?
That usually starts with carefully getting all the available forensic data: Tire markings, debris patterns, 3d scans, crash simulation results, and whatever else can be obtained from analysis of the vehicles and the impact site. After that investigators must look for less-obvious information: the trucker's medical, driving, and phone records, the truck and trailer's maintenance histories, dashcam footage and Electronic Control Module (ECM) data, and anything else that might grant them insights.
All that is still only half the investigation, though, as someone must visit the place where the cargo was loaded in the trailer. While there they should look for surveillance footage, obtain logs of the cargo's transfer, and interview the people working that day to find out exactly what happened (or if it didn't but should have, why not).
This wouldn't be the first time we've seen a manufacturer make mistakes when loading up a trailer. Not long ago, for example, we represented the family of a man who crashed into a large slab of steel hanging off a semi-truck's flatbed trailer. There were no signs, lights, or flags on the slab to warn people of the risk it posed; when the trucker ran a stop sign at night and the victim had to swerve to avoid the big rig's trailer, he still hit the overhanging slab and was fatally injured.
Some saw that as a clear matter of the truck driver's negligence, but it's always important to be sure of the whole story. We investigated further and found the driver certainly made serious mistakes but the factory that loaded the slab did as well. Its supervisors let it be placed on a trailer that was obviously too small for it, then made no effort to ensure the overhang would be clearly visible to other motorists. In short there were several problems with multiple parts of that slab's journey—which culminated in an innocent man losing his life.
I'm not saying anything like that necessarily happened in Arkansas, but the possibility is why a full and thorough investigation is needed. However, I'm a little concerned about exactly how much of that will actually happen. In my experience many law enforcement agencies lack the time, resources, and in some cases even the actual authority to retrieve all the evidence I've mentioned, yet none of it can safely be omitted or overlooked in pursuit of the truth. The people whose lives were so deeply affected by this crash deserve to have all their questions answered, so who will make sure that happens?