ORLEANS, IN – A semi truck lost part of its load on an Indiana highway, crushing two vehicles and killing three people. The truck accident occurred Monday evening on Indiana Highway 37 near the city of Orleans. The area is in Orange County in the southern section of the state, 90 miles south of Indianapolis, IN and 54 miles northwest of Louisville, KY.
According to Indiana authorities who responded to the truck accident scene, 33 year old Israel Rankin of Paoli, IN was driving his flatbed truck southbound on Highway 37. Rankin is the owner of the truck and was hauling a load of steel coils, transporting the heavy coils from Portage to Jeffersonville for Sonny’s Truck Sales, based in Paoli.
At approximately 7:20 p.m., as Rankin was taking a curve in the highway, one of the steel coils became loose and rolled off the semi truck. The steel coil, which weighed almost 44,000 pounds, struck a pick-up truck that was traveling in the northbound lanes of the highway, crushing the vehicle and killing the driver and one of the passengers. The loose steel coil then hit the car behind the pick-up, a 2009 Chevy Aveo, also crushing the car and killing the driver.
All of the deceased reportedly died at the scene of the truck accident from the injuries they suffered when the steel coil crushed their vehicles. The driver of the Aveo has been identified as 41 year old Michael Daughtery of Mitchell, IN. The victims in the pickup truck were identified as 22 year old Zachery Staggs of Bedford, IN and his 21 year old girlfriend Shannon Steele of Jasper, IN.
The lone survivor of the truck accident is Zachery’s younger sister who was sitting in the front seat of the pickup truck. Mackenzie Taylor, 11 years old, suffered numerous injuries when the steel coil fell on her brother’s truck. Emergency workers treated her at the scene and then airlifted her to Kosair Children’s Hospital in nearby Louisville, KY. Miss Taylor is listed in fair condition with a broken nose and ankle, and a cut to her face.
Highway 37 was closed for about six hours after the truck accident. Rankin, the semi truck driver, talked to several authorities at the scene. The truck driver says that earlier in the evening as he was traveling through Mitchell, in Lawrence County, he was cut off by a car and had to brake suddenly to avoid a collision. The truck driver said that he felt that “something wasn’t right with the load from that point on”. This apparently happened in a section of Highway 37 about four miles north of the fatal truck accident scene.
Police report that the steel coils were secured to the semi flatbed truck with chains. However they report that the tie-down chain appears broken in one of the official evidential photos. One officer described the steel coils as having the look and shape of a hay bale, but weighing 43,960 pounds.
The Orleans Police charged the truck driver with “Exceeding the legal weight capacity of the ties used to fasten the coil”. Although the investigation remains open, no other charges are expected at this time.
Several departments responded to the truck accident scene including officers from the Orange County Police and Sheriff Offices, and the Orleans and Indiana State police departments. Officers from the Indiana State Police Motor Carrier Division were also at the truck accident site to work on the accident reconstruction.
At Gordon & Elias L.L.P., our truck accident attorneys hold truck drivers and trucking companies accountable for their negligence in loading the trailer or flatbed of a commercial truck. They must exercise the highest standards of safety, particularly when a load contains hazardous or volatile material. Read more about unsecured loads.
For more information about Indiana trucking laws, truck injury causes and victims rights, contact a nationwide truck accident attorney for the best advise possible. For a free initial consultation, talk to an Indiana truck accident lawyer at 800.773.6770.