Police: drowsy trucker caused fatal I-17 truck accident

As anyone who has driven on Interstate 10 or Interstate 17 can tell you, the experience can be harrowing. Fast-moving cars populate those main arteries, often piloted by aggressive or distracted drivers.

When the fast-moving vehicles are tractor-trailers, the dangers to other motorists are magnified. A recent Maricopa County truck accident showed that 18-wheelers can cause not only terrible injuries, but also fatalities.   A recently married woman was critically injured in the violent collision on I-17 and her husband of just six months was killed.

The 22-year-old engineer was on his way with his wife (also an engineer) to an awards conference when their Mercedes SUV was slammed into by the tractor-trailer carrying concrete pavers. The SUV and other vehicles were stopped on the highway; the trucker didn’t notice the traffic stoppage because he had dozed off behind the wheel, he told law enforcement officers.

According to a TV report, another motorist was also critically injured in the rear-end crashes.

The 54-year-old truck driver also reportedly told police that he had taken muscle relaxers earlier and that he fell asleep while driving. He said he takes the relaxants not only to help him with back pain, but also to help him fall asleep. His big rig crashed into several vehicles that had halted near Bell Road just northeast of the west campus of Arizona State University, near Phoenix’s Freeway Plaza Shopping Center.

In an earlier news article on the November crash, investigators had reported that the trucker had slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and droopy eyelids.

In addition to the fatality and two critically injured motorists, three others had to be hospitalized.

The driver recently pled not guilty to charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault and other criminal charges. In many cases, accident victims want more than to see a negligent driver held criminally accountable. They want the driver to compensate them for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages. The first step in seeking that compensation is a conversation with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Source: AZcentral.com, “Semi driver arrested in fiery I-17 fatality pleads not guilty,” Kelsey Hess, Dec. 3, 2014