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Mojave Desert Rollover Crash Kills Teenager

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Jesse Farmer, 16, of La Mesa, was killed and four others were injured on December 16, 2008 along a remote highway in the Mojave Desert. The fatal rollover accident occurred on Highway 127 about 38 miles north of Baker. Farmer was apparently ejected from the rear seat and later died in an area hospital. Our source for this blog was this report in the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

My heart goes out to the family of young Jesse Farmer and the families of the other young people in the car who were injured. This is obviously any parent’s nightmare. Please keep Jesse’s family in your prayers as well as the others who are recovering from their injuries. I offer my deepest condolences to the Farmer family and wish the other victims the very best for a speedy and complete recovery.

Rollover accidents cause about 10,000 fatalities annually in the United States, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That number amounts to one-fourth or 25 percent of all auto accident fatalities in the country. A lot of these accidents occur because of inherently unstable vehicles that overturn even at lower speeds. In this particular fatal rollover crash, California Highway Patrol officials say that the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed. I would also be curious to find out whether the vehicle’s occupants were wearing seatbelts.

According to the news report, Jesse Farmer was ejected from the rear seat and died from his injuries. I If the newspaper report is accurate, it seems to me that none of the other occupants were ejected. If I were the attorney representing the Farmers, I would want to find out whether Jesse’s seatbelt failed, causing him to get ejected from the vehicle. Seatbelt defects are unfortunately too common and are particularly known to occur during rollover collisions.

A seatbelt system can fail in many ways. An alarming number of “side release” belts are prone to false latching and many “end release belts” are prone to unlatching during auto accidents. Our firm has seen numerous cases of restraint system failure involving seatbelt mounts, buckles, webbing and grabbers. Traffic investigators often times tend to assume that the driver or vehicle occupant was not wearing their seatbelt if they were ejected from a vehicle during a crash. But an expert looking for signs of seatbelt use will be able to confirm or correct such an assumption. I would urge Jesse Farmer’s family as well as the other injured victims to consult a reputed Southern California auto accident attorney instead of taking the investigating agency’s word for it.

A skilled auto product defect attorney will also have the body of the ejected person carefully examined for evidence of seatbelt bruising and marking. They would also test the webbing microscopically for marks, blood stains or other indicators that would prove that the seatbelt was in use at the time of the accident.

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