A recent New Mexico truck crash that involved a loaded passenger bus demonstrates just how dangerous big rigs can be on American roadways. NBC affiliate KXAN reports that the horrific accident caused the death of eight passengers on the bus with many others gravely injured. The driver of the truck was also injured in the wreck. Truck-involved accidents continue to threaten drivers throughout the country. The federal government estimates that 3,864 fatal accidents involving large trucks occurred just in 2016.
Accident investigators from the New Mexico State Police believe the incident occurred after a tire blew on the tractor trailer on August 30th. After the tire blew, the eighteen-wheeler, which was traveling on Interstate 40 near Thoreau, New Mexico, crossed the center median and struck the bus that was heading in the opposite direction.
Seven people were killed immediately as a result of the accident while an eighth died later in an area hospital, NBC reported. The bus was under the operation of Greyhound Bus Lines and was said to have had a total of 47 passengers. It is unclear whether that count included the driver. The tractor trailer impacted the passenger bus in a head-on collision.
The National Transportation Safety Board had an investigator on scene shortly after the accident. Investigator-in-Charge Pete Kotowowski said the investigation would look into how one blown tire had lead to such a catastrophic result when trucks feature doubled tires typically to prevent such an occurrence, or if other contributing factors could have lead to the crash.
Passenger Rachel Cunningham later recounted that she was awakened by the collision, which left part of the bus “opened up like a can of sardines.” Debris from the collision scattered both close to the crash as well as hundreds of feet away and closed down both directions of I-40 for hours. The long-term prognosis for many adults and at least one child injured in the wreck is not yet known but could involve extensive on-going medical needs to be met.
Upon conclusion of the accident investigation, police and NTSB investigators will determine whether any criminal activity or neglect played a role in the accident. Future civil litigation to hold the trucking company or driver liable may enable those left injured and the families of those killed to be compensated for their losses as well as financial considerations related to treatments, therapy and any ongoing disability.