An out-of-control big-rig plowed into a Caltrans road cleanup crew killing one member and injuring two others who were part of a team that was doing court-ordered community service on Highway 126 between Ventura and Santa Paula. According to a Sept. 5 news report in the Ventura County Star, 22-year-old Christopher Williams was pronounced dead at the scene. Another crew member, 29-year-old Felipe Reyes suffered critical injuries including a severed leg and a third worker, 23-year-old Matt Turnquist, suffered moderate injuries
According to the article, the flatbed truck was being driven by Steven Higgins, 49, of Ojai for Bakersfield-based Nabors Well Services. The big-rig was near Edwards Ranch Road in the right lane of westbound Highway 126 before the truck accident. The truck then veered into the right shoulder, struck a curb, bounced back into the left lane striking a car and then ran into three members of the crew cleaning an area next to the median.
My heart goes out to the family of Christopher Williams and to the other injured victims.
Since 1924, 32 Caltrans employees have been killed on the job in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, officials said.
Traffic investigators are still looking into what caused this fatal big rig accident – primarily what caused the tractor trailer to veer off the freeway. Some of the most common reasons for big rig crashes on the freeway, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), are truck driver fatigue, distracted driving and mechanical problems with big rigs due to lack of proper vehicle maintenance. If any of these are factors in this crash, Higgins as well as his employer will be held responsible for the accident, fatality and injuries.
The accident victims’ families should immediately contact a skilled Southern California personal injury law firm to look into all factors that contributed to this accident. Was there a dangerous condition on the highway? Did Caltrans and the Sheriff’s Department, for whom the crew was working, take all precautions to make sure the workers were safe? An experienced accident lawyer will be able to answer these questions and secure victims and their families the compensation they rightfully deserve. In the state of California, any claim against a governmental agency must be made within 180 days of the incident.