• May 02, 2017

Both Thoch Killed, Kek Yok Injured in Adair County, IA, Accident

Adair County, IA -- April 29, 2017, Both Thoch was killed and Kek Yok was injured after an accident where their car was hit by an 18-wheeler.

Authorities from the Iowa State Police released preliminary details concerning the fatal accident. They say it occurred at around 11:30 p.m. along I-80, just west of the town of Adair.

Police reported that 45-year-olc Thoch was driving a car along the westbound lanes of I-80 when the vehicle suddenly experienced some sort of mechanical failure. The car pulled over toward the right and came to a stop.

As the vehicle was sitting, it was suddenly rear-ended by a westbound tractor-trailer which somehow failed to avoid the vehicle. Both vehicles were sent off-road where they eventually came to a stop.

Thoch suffered fatal injuries in the collision, and responding emergency service officials pronounced him dead at the scene. His passengers, 42-year-old Yok, was transported to Cass County Memorial Hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries. The truck driver was not injured.

The police have yet to release further information on details surrounding the crash. No charges or citations were reported.

Investigations are ongoing.

Map of the Area

Commentary

The details in this accident tell me that this tragedy most likely could have been avoided, but exactly how depends on several different factors. The most obvious of these factors is whether or not the victim's vehicle was disabled in a traffic lane or on the shoulder.

Obviously if the victim's vehicle was safely pulled onto the shoulder, there is absolutely no excuse for the truck to have crashed into it. That would mean the truck failed to maintain its lane and drifted onto the shoulder. However, if the vehicle was broken down in the right lane, as some reports have claimed, then it's more reasonable that the truck would have a hard time avoiding the accident. That being said, there are still ways this could have been avoided should the latter scenario be true.

This particular stretch of road is very flat and straight, and though it's probably quite dark at night on the rural highway, there aren't any real obstructions to block a driver's view. As such, there aren't many excuses for the driver not being able to see the victim's car. Let's run through a few scenarios of how this could have played out if the victim's car was in the right traffic lane.

In one scenario, we'll say that hypothetically the mechanical failure that disabled the car actually caused the car to come to a near immediate stop directly in front of the 18-wheeler. This could certainly create a scenario where the truck driver had little time to stop, but if that's the case, then that means the truck was either following too closely or speeding. All drivers, especially commercial drivers, are expected to follow at safe distance at a speed that allows them to come to a stop should the vehicle in front of them slam on its brakes. Failing to do so is reckless and dangerous.

Another potential scenario would be that the victim's vehicle was disabled and had its lights on. If this is the case, there really is no reasonable excuse for a truck driver to make for hitting that car. If a driver is paying attention, they will notice the lights of a broken down vehicle and safely change lanes to go around them. At the very least, they'd be able to slow down in time to avoid hitting them. Since this is such a flat road, I find it hard to believe any driver would be unable to see the disabled vehicle well in advance.

The third scenario, which is a bit more complex, is if the mechanical failure caused the vehicle to break down in the right traffic lane and shut its lights off, rendering it very difficult to see. If this is the case, it's more reasonable that the truck driver would not have seen the car soon enough to calmly switch lanes as he or she would have in the second scenario. That being said, there's a reason drivers are expected to slow down. It is dangerous for someone to drive at a speed which makes their stopping distance longer than the distance of their headlights. This means that someone driving properly, seeing an obstruction suddenly enter their headlights, will have enough time to slam on their brakes. But 18-wheelers take longer than a typical car to stop, so does that mean they have to drive that much slower? Well, yes. Otherwise, these kinds of accidents can happen.

Now this isn't every possibility; there truly are a lot of different factors which could at play here which news reports didn't touch upon. Maybe weather conditions were unfavorable, maybe the victim's vehicle was actually protruding in both lanes, etc. The point here is that this accident is not as simple as, "Truck driver couldn't see a disabled vehicle in time to stop." It needs to be determined exactly why the truck driver didn't see the car in time, why he or she couldn't avoid the car, what caused the mechanical failure in the first place, and where the disabled vehicle end up in relation to the roadway. Since it's obvious that news and police reports aren't clearing these details up, there will need to be a thorough private investigation in order to answer these crucial questions and see that justice is done.

--Grossman Law Offices

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