• January 17, 2023

Five Killed in Crash with 18-Wheeler on Route 86 in Thermal, CA

Thermal, CA — January 14, 2023, five people died in a collision with a tractor-trailer on State Route 86 in Thermal.

Authorities say the incident happened Saturday along Route 86 at 81st Avenue. Preliminary investigation suggests the victims were in a Volkswagen Jetta headed east on 81st when the driver allegedly entered the highway intersection without yielding to cross-traffic. The eastbound car was then hit on its driver's side by a southbound semi-truck on Route 86.

Three adults aged 26, 24, and 23 and two children aged six and seven, all occupants of the Jetta, were pronounced dead at the scene. The truck driver was reportedly unhurt.

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

Reading how preliminary news reports frame this accident, some may feel that there's little else to say. Doesn't the police allegation of "failure to yield" pretty much tell the story? Maybe, but in my experience a once-over at the scene rarely learns the whole story.

I've been doing this for 30 years, and I have a feeling it would stun people to learn what authorities sometimes miss when they look into accidents like this one. Not long ago, for example, officers blamed a West Texas man for running a stop sign and triggering a wreck—only for a closer second look to find there wasn't a even sign there at the time because road crews removed it during construction. How can someone run a stop sign that isn't even there?

That situation was quite unusual, but it's an important example about being thorough and considering all the possibilities instead of relying on first impressions. Whether they're common or not, many things can lead to a crash like the one on Route 86. Jumping to conclusions won't get real answers for the people who lost loved ones out there, so it's best to ensure that clear facts and evidence tell the story. I just hope authorities will take the time and care needed to get those.

Five Killed in Crash with 18-Wheeler on Route 86 in Thermal, CA
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