Hanna Hernandez Killed in Truck Accident on US-62 in Lubbock County, TX
Lubbock County, TX — January 30, 2023, 20-year-old Hanna Hernandez died in a collision with a tractor-trailer on U.S. Highway 62 in Lubbock County.
Authorities say the incident happened just after 9:00 a.m. on US-62 at Farm to Market Road 400. Preliminary investigation suggests a Freightliner truck, described in some reports as a "utility van," was northbound on FM 400 when the driver allegedly failed to yield at the US-62 intersection. The truck entered the path of Hernandez' westbound Nissan Versa and the two collided in the crossroads.
Hernandez and a 7-month-old in the Nissan were taken to a Lubbock hospital where Hernandez was pronounced dead. The child's current status is unknown. No other injuries were reported and investigators say all those involved were wearing seat belts.
No further information is currently available.
There are obviously many questions that still need answers here, but among the preliminary details it stood out to me that sleet was falling and the roads were icy when the collision occurred. Those may seem like inconsequential details in the bigger picture of the crash, but frankly they're more important than they seem—largely because they can interfere with holding someone accountable for the terrible and fatal damage done.
Most people believe authorities will ensure there are consequences when one driver kills another, but criminal prosecutors rarely choose to make cases out of crashes like the one on Highway 62—often because they feel they'd lose them. Even under the best of circumstances situations like the one above are a tough sell to juries, who are usually reluctant to convict unless there's clear proof of a crime. If investigators found evidence that the truck driver committed a specific criminal offense that might change things, but otherwise proving he was guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt" in a crash on a hazardous road in winter weather is tricky. Maybe there's an ambitious district attorney in that county who will look past those obstacles and diligently try to get justice for that young woman, but experience tells me that's doubtful.
The same arguments that make those officials so gunshy create hurdles from a civil perspective as well. The insurance company behind that truck driver is obligated to protect him to the best of its ability, so the same icy conditions that prevented a criminal case might be highlighted as the main reason the truck driver didn't yield to oncoming traffic. If a jury can be convinced the ice was more likely than not why the truck didn't stop, the driver and his insurer might be cleared of responsibility.
Trapped between the rock of reluctant prosecutors and the hard place of obstinate insurers, it's no wonder so many victims and families end up frustrated and disillusioned after their accidents. I've found that most of them really want just two things: The clear facts of their accidents, and some proper accountability if those facts include a responsible party. Neither is unreasonable, yet in many cases they end up disappointed. Many have told us that the legal system did a better job looking out for the alleged culprits than it did the victims; I think most would agree that the people devastated by such accidents deserve the closure that comes with seeing someone held responsible.