Student Killed by Missing Truck PartA tragic accident involving a missing truck part led to the death of a Tulane University student at a rest stop in Mississippi early in March 2019. Margaret Maurer was at a rest stop on March 5th in Gautier, Mississippi with a group of friends when the tragic accident occurred. According to officers, the tractor trailer involved in the incident was traveling west on Interstate 10 when two of its wheels came loose, traveled across the eastbound lanes, entered the rest stop, and hit Maurer and two vehicles as she was about to get back into one of the vehicles with her friends.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation Office of Enforcement said that the likely cause of the truck accident was a missing locking ring, which has a $3 cost. The ring, which is a three-inch locking washer, could not be found when investigators opened up the wheel’s outer hub assembly. The missing ring is one of two that are used to lock large lug nuts in place that hold the wheels to the truck. The investigators said that they found just one of the two required locks.

Violations assessed during investigation

Aside from the missing locking ring, investigators also came across a leaking seal when reviewing the truck after the accident. The leaking seal is a serious enough issue that forced investigators to label the truck out-of-service. It’s likely that the leak was caused by damage from the loss of the wheels. Despite this, the wheels would not have fallen off the truck because of a leaking seal. Investigators also said that the locking ring would not have broken off, but instead was likely never installed in the first place. It was also noted by investigators that unannounced roadside inspections of the truck would not have discovered the missing locking ring.

Truck company involved and liability

The truck company involved in the crash, Dana Transport Inc., is headquartered in Avenel, New Jersey. The truck was also listed as being related to a company in Alabama, Suttles Truck Leasing, located in Demopolis. Investigators said that both of these companies are operating in good standing with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), holding satisfactory ratings. Both companies also hold vehicle safety and crash records that are considered better-than-average.

Even though this is a freak accident, the trucking company can still be held liable for the death of Maurer, who was preparing to graduate from Tulane this coming May with a degree in scientific illustration. Routine inspections by drivers, mechanics and other personnel at the trucking company might have been able to discover the missing locking ring before it was too late. Along with the trucking company, it’s possible others could be held liable for the accident that led to Maurer’s death, including the maintenance department used by Dana Transport Inc.

The loss of a loved one due to another person or entity’s negligence is never easy, no matter the circumstances. It’s in your best interest to speak with an experienced New Jersey wrongful death attorney following a loved one’s death in an effort to recover compensation for their medical bills, funeral costs, and pain and suffering. Call the office of Eichen Crutchlow Zaslow, LLP at 732-777-0100 or complete the contact form to schedule a consultation at our offices in Edison, Red Bank, or Toms River.