The Georgia State Patrol released a photo of a car and boat trailer they believed was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident Monday.
Brian Edward Durst, 53, of Alpharetta was changing a tire on his vehicle along Interstate 75 in Lamar County near mile marker 198 when state troopers believe a tire from the boat trailer came loose and hit him.
Durst died from his injuries. The driver did not stop.
Investigators believe the driver may not be aware that the tire came loose, according to a GSP news release.
Anyone with information on the vehicle, trailer, or driver is asked to call the Georgia State Patrol at the Newnan Communications Center at 770-254-7201 or the Lamar County Sheriff's Office.
VAN BUREN (AP) >> State police are trying to determine what caused a tire on a boat trailer to break loose and slam into a vehicle on a Syracuse-area highway, killing an elementary school teacher and injuring her 1-year-old child and a 4-year-old she was babysitting.
Troopers say the tire came off a trailer hauling a boat being pulled by van traveling east on Interstate 690 around 1 p.m. Thursday in Van Buren, just west of Syracuse.
Police say the tire crossed the median and slammed into the windshield and roof of an eastbound vehicle driven by 33-year-old Jennifer Miles of Baldwinsville.
Police say the boat owner faces tickets for having a trailer that hadn’t been inspected or registered.
Facts: How can a layer do this? Are we going to have to drive a vehicle designed like a tank? No government agency has ever tested a vehicle to absorb this and the point we keep asking is the tire and rim should never come off in the first place!
All trailers in the United States are built to a voluntary standard would you buy a baby seat that way? Then why are you towing a trailer built to a Voluntary Standard?
KIA needs to defend this lawsuit.
By Douglass Dowty | firstname.lastname@example.org
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on February 02, 2016 at 11:24 AM, updated February 02, 2016 at 11:55 AM
Syracuse, NY -- The family of a Baldwinsville teacher killed by a flying tire on Interstate 690 is suing her automaker for building an unsafe vehicle.
Jennifer Miles, 33, was killed in April 2014 after a tire flew off an oncoming vehicle and bounced onto her Kia Sportage, crushing the front of the vehicle.
Her 1-year-old son and a 4-year-old nephew were in the backseat during the accident and survived with minor cuts from the shattered sunroof. But their psychological scars from what happened to Miles remain, the lawsuit states.
After the accident, Miles was remembered as a beloved fourth-grade teacher at McNamara Elementary.
The lawsuit blames Kia for building a cheap vehicle that sacrificed safety for good looks. Miles' leased 2013 Kia Sportage should have withstood the impact from the flying tire, the lawsuit asserts. (The vehicle got high marks in federal safety tests, but none specifically addressed flying debris.)
The tire flew off the rear right wheel of a boat trailer driven by Nevada West III, of Liverpool. West was ticketed and admitted to having an uninspected trailer, the lawsuit notes.
West was going eastbound when the tire came loose, struck a guardrail and bounced into the westbound lanes. It landed on the driver's side windshield area of the Kia, then bounced another 300 feet down the highway, over a rail yard before coming to a rest, troopers said.
It's not clear why the tire came off. The lawsuit offers three scenarios:
1. Excessive grease caused the wheel bearing to overheat and fail.
2. Over-tightening the hub nut, causing excessive friction that caused the axle to overheat and fail.
3. Failing to make sure the wheel was properly affixed.
While West is named in the lawsuit, the majority of the 30-page complaint focuses on Miles' automaker.
The piece that struck Miles was the frame above the windshield. That metal piece broke free from the frame near the driver's side door, causing the vehicle to crush, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit suggests the frame wouldn't have failed in a safer vehicle. It accused Kia of:
1. Not securing the frame with anything more than two spot welds. It suggests gussets or other parts could have made it stronger.
2. Designing the roof "in favor of aesthetic appeal over safety."
3. Failing to design the vehicle to withstand "real world incidents" that include objects crashing into the windshield area.
The lawsuit acknowledges that Kia met the minimum federal standard for compression strength, but argues that the automaker should have done more.
Miles and the children were properly belted in during the accident. Had the tire struck a few feet further back, it could have seriously injured or killed the children, troopers have said.
The family's lawyer, Francis Rivette, declined comment other than to call it a "great tragedy." Kia did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.
Note They Did not sue the car company...they sued the responsible party....towing a defective and crappy trailer.
HOOKSETT, N.H. —An attorney says a family has settled their lawsuit after a New Hampshire woman was killed in 2013 when a tractor-trailer tire slammed into her sport utility vehicle on Interstate 93 in Hooksett.
40-year-old Kerry Anderson-Baker, of Concord, died in the accident when a wheel dislodged from the trailer, ricocheted off a police cruiser and slammed into her windshield.
Authorities said neither the truck nor the trailer should have been on the road. An inspection revealed the brakes on each were worn.
Anderson-Baker's family sued last year claiming negligence.
The family's lawyer, Ben Zimmermann, tells the Concord Monitor that a settlement has been reached but he cannot discuss the details.
An order issued Wednesday in Merrimack County Superior Court was sealed because it involves a minor.
PITTSBURGH —A man was found not
guilty Friday of causing the fatal accident on Route 28 in Shaler
Township in which a wheel came off a trailer he was hauling, bounced
over the median and crushed the roof and windshield of an oncoming car,
killing its driver.
Allegheny County Judge Beth Lazzara found Eric Gonzalez-Huerta, 23, not guilty of the only felony count against him -- causing an accident involving death while not properly licensed. She found him guilty of 22 lesser summary offenses for safety violations, for which he was fined the maximum total of $1,800.
Seventy-five-year-old Robert Lofink of Hampton Township was driving his wife home from a doctor's appointment on Nov. 21, 2014 and they were going to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary that evening. From their car's back seat, his wife witnessed his death.
The judge told Gonzalez-Huerta that although he is not criminally guilty under the law, "That does not mean you are not responsible. That's something you'll have to live with and deal with every day of your life."
Through an interpreter, Gonzalez-Huerta said, "How sorry I am for the death of this person. I direct my condolences to the man's family. I feel horrible about what happened."
Assistant District Attorney Aaron McKendry had argued
Gonzalez-Huerta was warned about many reasons his truck and trailer were
a danger and should not have been on the road. It presented evidence
Gonzalez-Huerta's mechanic had warned him his truck and trailer had so
many safety problems, he'd "go to jail" if he drove it.
After the deadly accident, Pittsburgh police Officer Lawrence Huber inspected the truck and trailer and cited Gonzalez-Huerta for nearly 20 safety violations. Huber testified that none of the brakes on the trailer were working; tires on the truck and trailer were worn down to the steel and fabric belts; there was no emergency brake to stop the trailer if it came loose; and there were no chains in place to prevent the trailer from coming loose from its ball and pin. Police photos entered into evidence illustrate that heat from friction caused by the wheel was so intense that some metal had melted on the spindle from which the wheel came loose. The prosecution also said that Gonzalez-Huerta knew he had no valid driver's license and no insurance.
Defense attorney Paul Giuffre only called one witness during the trial -- forensic mechanics expert Robert Nocivelli, who testified that the wheel came off the trailer because it was not properly installed. The defense argued that Gonzalez-Huerta did not know about that problem and should not be blamed for the wheel coming loose and killing Lofink.
The judge ruled Friday that the prosecution had not proven Gonzalez-Huerta knew of or caused the specific problem with the wheel that caused it to come off and kill Lofink. Gonzalez-Huerta's other safety offenses are not felonies and the judge noted they did not play a role the wheel coming loose.
When he was arrested, Allegheny County reported that Gonzalez-Huerta was in the United States illegally. Giuffre was unable to answer questions about his client's citizenship, but noted that Gonzalez-Huera has lived in the U.S. since he was 12 years old , has a wife and children here, and pays income taxes. With this verdict he'll no longer be held in the Allegheny County Jail.
Follow updates from Pittsburgh's Action News 4 reporter Bob Mayo on Twitter @BMayo_WTAE.
A car was seen on I-93 after it was struck by a manhole, killing the driver.
A manhole cover at the edge of the Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Tunnel came loose and flew into the air during the Friday morning commute, smashing through a car’s front windshield and killing the driver, an art teacher who was headed to her job at a Milton elementary school.
Caitlin Clavette, 35, was driving south on the Southeast Expressway in Boston just before 8 a.m. when the manhole cover, which weighed more than 200 pounds, crashed into her black Honda HR-V, traveled through the vehicle, and exited the rear of the car.
The stunning fatality raised unsettling questions about motorists’ safety and prompted the state to immediately inspect 500 covers for manholes, drainage systems, and electrical panels on area highways. The accident occurred on a stretch of highway traveled by some 100,000 drivers a day.
Crews clearing the crash appeared visibly upset, said Cathi Porreca-Leonard, who passed the accident scene Friday morning.
“They were consoling each other,” she said. “It could have been anybody.”
State officials were unable to explain what may have caused the cover to come loose from the street level framework where it normally would have rested, and were investigating how it happened. They would not say whether the emergency inspections had uncovered other problems.
“Our sympathy goes out to the family of the victim involved in this horrific incident this morning,” said Thomas Tinlin, the state’s highway administrator. “This tragedy is leading us to take several steps immediately out of an abundance of caution.”
The State Police, who are investigating, did not identify the driver who was struck. But in a letter to parents Friday afternoon, Milton Public Schools officials said Clavette’s death was “a tremendous loss.”
“She was a talented and valued member of our faculty,” wrote the principal of Glover Elementary School, Sheila Kukstis, in a message to the school community. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.”
Clavette graduated from Winchester High School and received her bachelor’s degree in art from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, according to Milton school officials. She held a master’s degree from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
The manhole cover that went airborne covered a storm drain under the far left travel lane of the O’Neill Tunnel, where Clavette was traveling, said David Procopio, a State Police spokesman.
The cover blasted through the windshield of Clavette’s vehicle on the driver’s side and came to a rest just outside the tunnel, Procopio said.
Her car continued for about 100 feet before stopping when it scraped a Jersey barrier between the Southeast Expressway and a connector ramp, he said.
Porreca-Leonard said she saw the damaged vehicle as she was driving home from Logan International Airport with her husband.
“The whole back of the car was blown out. It was just an awful, awful sight,” she said. “I know a lot of people have that visual now.”
Investigators will examine the manhole cover to determine whether it had excessive wear or any other flaws that could have caused it to become airborne, Procopio said.
“We are also in the process of seeing how it fits into the hole it came from, to see if the fit is satisfactory or if it’s loose,” he said.
In many cases, manhole covers are not attached to their frames with a bolt or other fastener, but instead lie flat and stay in place from their own weight.
Marc Breakstone, a Boston lawyer who has litigated personal injury cases involving manholes, said if the cover was not sitting flush to the road, it might teeter in its frame and damage it.
“I’m guessing the rear wheel or wheels of a heavy vehicle passed over the manhole, catching the exposed lip of the cover, and from the traction of the tire dislodged and caused the cover to become a projectile which flew through the passenger compartment of this poor woman’s car,” he said.
Robert Norton, another lawyer who has investigated similar accidents, agreed, noting it wouldn’t have been Clavette’s car that caused the manhole cover to go airborne.
“There’s no way that can go airborne without a vehicle going over it, and it was probably a truck,” he said. “This poor lady — she didn’t dislodge it.”
Investigators plan to review surveillance video to determine whether the manhole cover was dislodged by another vehicle before it struck Clavette’s car.
State Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack described the fatal incident as a “very rare event.”
“They’re pretty hard to dislodge and even harder to get airborne,” she told reporters at the State House.
The manhole cover was last inspected in June 2014, officials said. At the time of the inspection, it “rated very good,” Pollack said.
The Transportation Department conducts inspections of hardware on the roads in the tunnel system every two years.
“There does not seem to have been any recent work that would have involved moving that manhole cover,” Pollack said.
The state had not received any prior complaints about the cover, said Jacquelyn Goddard, spokeswoman for the Transportation Department.
Pollack said she was not aware of any connection between the cold temperatures and the cover going airborne, but she said investigators would look into it. The temperature was 10 degrees in Boston at 8 a.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service in Taunton.
In 2007, transportation officials inspected 86,000 storm grates and manholes after a software engineer from Easton was severely injured when a 250-pound storm grate slammed through his windshield on Route 128 in Westwood.
The family of Pawel Swierczynski sued, contending the grate was defective.
The lawsuit was settled before going to trial in 2010, said Norton, the lawyer who represented Swierczynski.
The terms of the agreement are confidential, he said.
“This is a sad day for us as this tragic incident revives difficult memories. We can only offer our condolences and hope they find the strength to get through this difficult time,’’ the Swierczynski family said in a statement.
In Milton, officials said Clavette began teaching art in the town’s elementary schools in 2011.
The Glover School plans to open Saturday for parents to receive guidance on discussing Clavette’s death with their children, the district said.
Christine Allen, whose 11-year-old daughter, Grace, attends Glover, said she was badly shaken by the news.
Grace had been in Clavette’s art classes for years and adored her, Allen said. This year, Grace was in a special art program during lunch on Fridays. On this Friday, the class had planned to paint tribal masks.
“She decided that she wanted to be an art teacher, too,” Allen said.
Allen said she planned to tell her daughter that what happened to Clavette was a random tragedy. “There was nothing she could have done,” she said.