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Coalinga Big Rig Collision Kills Driver and Passenger

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Bakersfield residents Scott Duke and his passenger, Eugene Hernandez were killed in a big rig accident near Derrick and Gale avenues in Coalinga, reports The Fresno Bee in a recent article.

Duke, 39, and Hernandez, 23, were speeding in a 2008 Volvo when the car rear ended a dump truck loaded with 15 tons of asphalt, according to authorities. The impact of the car crash killed both and emergency crews worked for four hours to cut the car free from under the truck. Gregory Vannoort, the 25-year-old truck driver of Fresno was not injured.

My prayers are with the Duke and Hernandez families. Something happened on that roadway that isn’t explained in the news reports. My suspicious nature is thinking there is much unreported that will reflect on what really caused this car vs. truck accident.

Fifteen tons is a lot of asphalt to haul especially when most asphalt dump trucks have either a 5 or 10 ton capacity. Was this asphalt dump truck over loaded. Was it moving dangerously slow for the traffic conditions or was it dangerously parked? Duke just didn’t mindlessly speed into the back of a dump truck. Where the tail and brake lights on the dump truck working at the time of the big truck collision? There has to be more to this story.

The other details of this traffic accident are typical of what happens in an” underride” crash, when a car rear-ends a higher chassis truck, goes under the truck and a “Passenger Compartment Intrusion” occurs. Trucks are required to have bumpers approximately 40 cm (20 in) above ground in order to protect from “under riding”. The Department of Transportation (DOT) safety standards and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 223 mandate standards for rear impact guards on full trailers and semi-trailers over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight manufactured on or after January 26, 1998.

Did the dump truck have a rear impact guard that complied with state and federal law? The Duke and Hernandez families should already be consulting with a personal injury law firm highly skilled in truck accidents, accident reconstruction and biomechanics of injuries. Such skills will be needed to determine what happened and who is at fault.

Inspection of the dump truck immediately, before it is altered is essential. I suggest preserving the Volvo until accident reconstruction and biomechanical experts can inspect it.

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