Scott Morrell Killed, Stacy Vargas, Garret Vanvleet Injured in Dust Storm Accident in Optima, OK
Optima, OK -- February 14, 2023, Scott Morrell was killed, Stacy Vargas and Garret Vanvleet were injured due to an accident in a dust storm.
Authorities said the incident was part of a pile-up that occurred along US n54 at around 12:15 p.m. It appears winds kicked up a serious dust storm in the area which, according to authorities, reduced visibility to near "zero". As a result, multiple collisions occurred, involving at least one semi-truck.
One of those collision resulted in the death of Scott Dale Morrell, who was in a Dodge Journey. His passenger 49-year-old Stacy Vargas and another driver 61-year-old Garret Vanvleet had injuries. It's unclear if others were hurt.
Needless to say, a multi-vehicle crash during hazardous weather conditions is going to present some unique challenges for investigators, and I hope they can rise to meet those challenges. I've often seen investigations where authorities were quick to blame the weather in these situations rather than actually looking at the facts. That can cause very serious issues to slip through the cracks.
For example, DFW saw a massive accident scene about two years ago now during an ice storm. Multiple people were killed and around a hundred vehicles were involved. Many people just saw it as a devastating, unavoidable accident caused by the weather. Once officials actually dug into the facts, though, it was clear many of those fatalities happened due to commercial drivers and passenger vehicles alike failing to reduce their speed for the hazardous conditions.
So while I can't say whether or not anything here was avoidable, I just hope authorities are more thorough than simply blaming everything on a dust storm. Someone lost their life here, and that warrants ensuring nothing important slips through the cracks.