Wendell Lewis Killed in Parleys Canyon, UT, Tanker Fire Accident
Parleys Canyon, UT -- February 22, 2017, Wendell Lewis was killed due to an accident in which a tanker of crude oil crashed and caught fire.
The Utah State Highway Patrol shut down a large portion of I-80 at around 10:30 p.m. The accident happened near the I-215 interchange.
According to preliminary investigations, 67-year-old Lewis was traveling along I-80 when his semi-trailer somehow stalled on the icy roadway. As he was in his truck, another semi hauling two crude oil tanks attempted to pass him. Somehow, the two trucks made contact with each other, bursting open the tankers and leaking oil.
Immediately after the collision, a fire sparked and the wreckage was engulfed in flames. The driver of the semi-tanker was able to escape without injury, but Lewis was not. He died at the scene.
Authorities worked for several hours to contain the fire before investigating the scene. They have yet to determine exactly how the accident happened.
No additional details are currently available.
Map of the Area
News reports about this accident have been all over the place on what exactly happened. As far as I've found, the oil tanker was attempting to go around the stalled 18-wheeler when they crashed, causing the fire to break out. But there are still a lot of crucial details missing here.
How much time did the tanker driver have to react to the stalled 18-wheeler? Why was he unable to avoid the collision? How fast was the semi-tanker going? What were the specifics of the collision between the two trucks? Did the cabs collide, or did the trailers hit each other? What exactly sparked the fire? How come Mr. Lewis wasn't able to escape his vehicle? Was he trapped in the cab, or was he incapacitated in the collision?
There a lot of factors involved in this crash, and determining who should be held liable for the accident is beyond the scope of police obligations. They may determine a proper fact pattern in due time, but they typically don't get into the smaller, more subtle details surrounding the crash.
The root of justice is truth. The first step towards understanding the truth is knowing exactly what took place. Only then can we properly apportion accountability for this horrific incident.
--Grossman Law Offices