Gail Boulanger, Helen Mitchner Killed in Lordsburg, NM, Accident
Lordsburg, NM -- February 23, 2017, Gail Boulanger and Helen Mitchner were killed due to an accident where their car was pinned between two 18-wheelers.
New Mexico State Police were called to the scene west of Lordsburg at around 12:30 p.m. The accident happened near the intersection of I-10 and Highway 338.
Authorities report that a dust storm had come up, resulting in limited visibility. 64-year-old Boulanger and 83-year-old Mitchner were both in a passenger vehicle traveling westbound on the interstate. The 18-wheeler behind them did not slow down in time and rear-ended their vehicle, pushing it into the back of the 18-wheeler in front of them.
As a result of the accident, both occupants suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene. No other injuries were reported.
Authorities have not reported any citations or charges following the accident. Investigations are ongoing.
Map of the Area
The news reports about this accident are definitely focusing on the dust storm as a key factor in the crash. A very likely scenario is that if a claim were to be brought against the truck driver that rear-ended the victims' car, the trucking company would say the dust storm caused the accident, therefore the truck driver couldn't avoid the accident. This could be true under certain circumstances, but there needs to be a thorough investigation to determine if the driver properly adjusted his driving for the conditions of the road.
Dust storms aren't like most other natural hazards like rain or fog. Dust storms can seemingly come out of nowhere, and drivers can quickly find themselves with little to no visibility. In cases like this, it's not uncommon to see accidents happen as drivers have to react to their sudden lack of vision. As a matter of fact, a similar accident happened a few years ago in the same area during a dust storm. However, it needs to be determined just how poor visibility was at the time of this accident and how much time the truck driver had to react.
If the dust storm came up in just a matter of seconds, it's entirely possible the truck driver did everything he could to adjust to the situation. If the storm was relatively consistent, however, then the truck driver should have had enough time to either slow down or pull off the roadway. A professional driver is held to a higher standard to be aware of hazardous weather conditions and adjust their driving accordingly. A commercial driver failing to do this can be a fatal mistake.
In the end, these are very particular details that aren't really being addressed in reports I've seen. It will take a very close investigation from an independent professional to properly examine the factors surrounding the crash. Once that is done, it can be decided once and for all if those involved did everything they could to try and avoid this tragedy.
--Grossman Law Offices