Joshua Villa Killed in Alleged OWI Trucker Accident in Urbandale, IA
Urbandale, IA — November 12, 2023, Joshua James Villa was killed due to an alleged impaired trucker accident at around 10:00 p.m. on I-80.
Authorities with the Iowa State Patrol say the incident took place near 86th Street along the westbound lanes of the interstate outside of Des Moines.
According to current statements, 45-year-old Joshua Villa was a tow truck driver working at a crash scene where there were emergency vehicles with emergency lights active. While there, police say that a semi-truck left its lane and hit the tow truck, also hitting Villa, who was outside the vehicle. As a result, Villa suffered fatal injuries.
After the collision, authorities say the semi-truck continued driving and left the scene. Police in Clive eventually pulled over the truck, and reports say the driver told them he "thought he hit a bird." They then say they discovered his blood-alcohol content to be over the legal limit. According to reports, there are possible pending charges, including Homicide by Vehicle - Operating under the influence.
If all of these allegations are true, one question comes to my mind: Are authorities investigating this driver's employer? Unless he's an independent owner-operator, it should be an immediate concern of investigators considering the likelihood that a drunk truck driver is a foreseeable and preventable problem. Allow me to explain.
I've been handling wrongful death truck accidents for decades now, and plenty of those cases involved a truck driver who was driving under the influence. I can't recall a single time where one of those impaired drivers was squeaky clean, then decided to wake up one day and drive drunk or high. In virtually every example, the driver had a pattern of intoxicated driving.
For employers of commercial vehicle drivers, ensuring their employees can do their job safely includes ensuring they aren't driving while intoxicated. Sounds pretty obvious to say, but it would surprise people how many companies out there either ignore known issues or simply fail to check up on their drivers, thus allowing problems to persist unchecked. In either situation, allowing the problem to continue is just an accident waiting to happen—an accident that is probably preventable.
So what happened here? If the driver truly was intoxicated as authorities say, did the driver have an employer who should have seen this coming? Was this a known issue that went unaddressed, or did someone fail in their responsibility to hold this driver to appropriate standards? If there's a company out there inept enough to allow employees to drink on the job, imagine what other problems investigations could uncover.