snow covered interstateA sudden snow squall that brought slick conditions and high wind gusts is blamed for a massive chain reaction crash involving at least 40 vehicles on January 12th. The crash scene in Dearborn County near the Ohio border was actually a combination of two smaller pileups and closed both lanes of Interstate 74 from late morning until nightfall. The westbound side didn’t reopen until almost 8 pm.

Reports and photos from the scene show that as many as 17 of the vehicles involved were trucks. News accounts indicate that the accident started when a semi-truck jackknifed on the highway, possibly because of winds up to 50 miles per hour. The destruction only escalated from there. No one was killed in the chain of collisions that followed, but six people were transported to hospitals with non-life threatening injuries.

Eyewitnesses suggest that the aftermath could have been much worse, though, and credit motorists on the scene for their brave and responsible actions.

Good Samaritans Avert Disaster

One driver publicly thanked the mystery hero who stood in the middle of the westbound lanes and waved off a truck that likely would have crashed into her car, which was already involved in the tangle of vehicles. “He made sure they all stopped,” said Brittany Herth, who was not injured. A few moments later, the man was gone. Without his willingness to put himself in a dangerous position, even more vehicles might have been involved. “It could have been a lot worse,” Herth said.

No one is certain, but the mystery hero might have been Sean Selman, another driver who came upon the pileup of semis and tried to avoid them, but became part of the crash scene. Still more vehicles continued to plow into each other. “The trucks just kept coming, they kept slamming, so I ran out on the road to try and slow everyone down,” he said. Selman was not alone. He and several other motorists also assisted the first emergency vehicles on the scene and checked on vehicle occupants to find those trapped and injured and in need of aid.

Another driver, David Pickrell, was impressed by the reactions of his fellow motorists, who immediately began to help each other and provide first aid. “Nobody panicked, nobody freaked out.”

Cool Heads Prevail

The actions of those on the scene prevented more vehicles from getting involved in the crash and they might even have saved lives. Would you react as well as they did? Do you know what to do after a car or truck crash? When you’re in a crash, there are certain do’s and don’ts that most sources agree on:

DO

  • Keep calm. Panic and overreaction have no place at a crash scene.
  • Make sure you and others are safe. If it’s possible and safe to do so, get out of the roadway and help others do the same. If it can be done safely, prevent other vehicles from adding to the crash, as happened in this case.
  • Check for injuries. See to yourself and others. Give first aid as needed. When in doubt, do not try to move an injured person.
  • Report the accident. Call 911 or other emergency services immediately.
  • Take down all driver and vehicle information. All parties will need this later for accident reports and insurance claims
  • Take notes on the crash. Explain what happened, in what order, and which vehicles were involved. Use the camera on your phone to take lots of pictures.

DON’T

  • Leave the scene. This is a crime in many places, especially if someone has been injured.
  • Forget to call 911. Alert emergency services, even if the accident is not serious.
  • Lose your cool. Anger and frustration only make dealing with the situation harder.
  • Forget to take down important information. You can’t have too much. Details matter.
  • Neglect the aftermath. Get follow-up medical care or checkups right away. As soon as it’s safe, you might need to contact an attorney for legal assistance. Report the crash to your insurance company quickly, to speed the resolution of your claim.

Protecting Truck Accident Victims

Wilson Kehoe Winingham understands the special considerations involved in truck accident cases. If you need legal advice in a car or truck accident situation, give us a call. We offer a free consultation, with no obligation. Use our online form to have someone contact you, or give us a call at 317-920-6400 today.

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