• February 08, 2023

Douglas Whaley Killed in Multi-Vehicle Accident on SH 35 in Oak Grove Township, MN

Oak Grove Township, MN — February 6, 2023, 49-year-old Douglas Whaley died in a multi-vehicle accident on State Highway 35 in Oak Grove Township.

Authorities say the incident happened just before 7:50 p.m. on Highway 35 near 1200th Street. Preliminary investigation suggests Whaley was driving a Dodge Ram in the area when he stopped to help retrieve a Chrysler 300 sedan from a ditch. As Whaley and the Chrysler driver worked in the area a Freightliner box truck approached from the south and hit the Dodge, then also struck a nearby Pontiac Grand Am.

Whaley was critically injured in the crash and died a short time later at a St. Paul hospital. A 13-year-old passenger in the Dodge and a 3-month-old from the Chrysler were also taken to hospitals with unspecified injuries. No other injuries were reported.

The investigation continues but officials said road conditions were icy at the time of the wreck.

No further information is currently available.

If preliminary reports have their details straight it seems like a man trying to help a stranded person out had his life cut short. Some may think the explanation for that is already spelled out in the news: A commercial truck showed up and crashed into the victim's pickup. But why did that happen? Did the icy roads mentioned by officials keep the truck from stopping or steering clear? Was the truck well-maintained? How fast was it moving, and was that speed reasonable for the hazardous conditions? Was its driver awake, alert, and paying attention? Could anything else, possibly missed by officers at the scene, have contributed to or caused the accident? Finding the accident's true cause—and eliminating other explanations—is usually crucial in resolving it.

To be clear, I don't know more than public reports say about what happened here. That's the issue, really: They don't say much. I think most would agree that a man losing his life in the middle of a good deed is more than enough reason to find out whether that could or should have been avoided. At the very least his loved ones deserve to know they have the full story; if that story showed a need for someone to be held accountable, well, I'd say they deserve that too. I just hope Minnesota authorities agree.

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