Colby White Olson, 16, of Laytonville, was killed in a Redwood Valley rollover accident on December 23, 2008, after the vehicle’s driver lost control and veered off Highway 101. According to a news report in the Record Bee, Hugo L. Macias Jr., 20, was driving his 1994 Geo Tracker south on Highway 101 and was traveling down a grade when he suddenly veered right off the highway and plummeted down a ravine. The vehicle rolled over several times and Olson was ejected from the vehicle. Macias was taken to a local hospital with major injuries. Both Olson and Macias were wearing seatbelts.
My heart goes out to the family of young Colby White Olson, who died in this tragic rollover accident. I offer my deepest condolences to his family and friends. I also wish the driver, Hugo L. Macias Jr., the very best for a quick and complete recovery. Please keep them all in your prayers.
Rollover accidents are the leading cause of motor vehicle fatalities in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), each year there are about 40,000 auto accident fatalities, out of which one-fourth are rollover crashes. Since these are high impact and high intensity accidents, the consequences are often devastating. They almost always result in catastrophic injuries or death.
According to California Highway Patrol officials, both Olson and Macias were wearing seatbelts. The vehicle tumbled down a steep ravine. But as it turns out Macias’ seatbelt did not fail and he did not suffer fatal injuries, but Olson’s seatbelt seems to have failed because he was ejected from the vehicle. If I were a member of Olson’s family I would want to find out why Olson was ejected from the vehicle and not Macias, if both were wearing seatbelts and were in the same vehicle tumbling down the same ravine.
The family of Colby White Olson would be well-advised to consult with a California seatbelt defects lawyer, who will have the vehicle carefully examined by an expert for seatbelt defects or seatbelt failure. 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. We have even uncovered internal memos and documents that clearly show that automakers had knowledge of these dangerous defects and failures, but did nothing to correct them.
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 use an expert to test the seatbelt webbing microscopically for marks, blood stains and other evidence and determine how the seatbelt ultimately failed.