• February 14, 2017

Elmer Martinez Manchuca, Christopher Anderson Hurt in Accident in Ector County, TX

Ector County, TX -- A collision between a tractor-trailer and a pickup truck left two people with injuries in the area of Ector County, TX Friday, February 10, 2017.

The incident took place at Highway 302 and FM 181 about 7 a.m.

The report claims a tractor-trailer driven by Mr. Anderson, 35, and a pickup driven by 27-year-old Elmer Martinez Manchuca. The local news suggests the semi-truck was southbound on 181 when it failed to yield to the oncoming pickup truck.

The drivers of both vehicles were taken to Medical Center Hospital, but the report was unclear as to their current conditions.

The official investigation is currently underway.

map of the area


With an accident as serious as this, the details really matter. Taking a closer look at the scene of the collision, I think the local news got a few things wrong.

Starting with the photograph provided to the local news by a passerby (named Jorge Jimenez), we can glean some significant important information. Looking at Google maps, one can easily make out where the photographer was positioned when he took the pic, and, thus, where the two damaged vehicles came to rest.

He was standing in such a way that we can make out a stop sign and one-way sign, a merge sign, a pump jack, and some power lines. A quick review of Google makes it clear that the photographer must've been standing more or less here when he took the photo:


The significance of this is not just where the photographer was standing, rather, it's the relative distance of the aforementioned landmarks. From the photographer's perspective, we can see that the vehicles are in front of the merge sign but behind the stop sign and the one way sign. Add all this information together, and it appears the trucks came to rest as depicted here:


The final resting place tells us something important about what happened in the collision. Considering the positioning of the two vehicles, it would be highly improbable that it happened as the news described it (which they presumably learned from the police). They claim that the 18-wheeler was headed south on FM 181, which would mean that he collision between the two vehicles looked like this:

This is how the news described the collision between the two vehicles.

The problem with that theory is that it would mean that the pickup would've struck the driver's side of the 18-wheeler. If that were true, then how in the world could the pickup come to rest on the passenger side of the 18-wheeler, as we can clearly see that it did in the aforementioned witness-provided photo?

For that to have happened, the 18-wheeler would have needed to have spun clockwise from the roughly six-o'clock position to the roughly 10-o'clock position without jackknifing, no less. But in case that's not fantastical enough, Mr. Manchuca's pickup would therefore have to have done at least one 360 turn around the spinning 18-wheeler. That doesn't seem possible.

What makes far more sense would be for the 18-wheeler to have been headed northbound on 181 (or maybe he was going eastbound on 302 and did a U-turn) and attempted to turn left onto westbound 302, which would've looked like this:


If he were indeed heading northbound, you can easily see how the vehicles would collide in the intersection like this:


And ultimately end up positioned like this:


Now, you may be thinking, "Okay, great. You figured out that the news said the trucker was going south and that doesn't make sense considering where the vehicles came to a rest. So what?" The reason this is so significant is because the lawyers who defend negligent truckers live in the margins between what can and cannot be proved. They exploit inaccuracy and incorrect investigative conclusions in order to cast doubt on their negligent driver's misconduct. Their argument would go something along the lines of, "The police couldn't even figure out what direction the vehicles were going, so how can we trust their determination of fault?"

Think of it this way. The one known commodity about this wreck which is beyond dispute is where the vehicles came to rest and what their relative position to one another was. If a trucking company lawyer can argue that investigators got it wrong when they tried to piece together HOW the vehicles came to rest in that position, then this opens the door for the trucking company to invent their own explanation. And you can bet that their version of events is going to suggest that the 18-wheeler was heading westbound on 302 when it struck the pickup as the pickup ran the stop sign on southbound 158. Don't get me wrong, that's not what I think happened. Not at all. I think the 18-wheeler caused the accident, as seems clear from the photographic evidence and healthy dose of common sense. My point is simply that details matter, and when people involved with investigating or reporting on the accident get these details wrong, they open the door for a trucking company lawyer to come in and create their own theories, which is bad for the victim.


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