Medical Emergency Cause of Fatal Truck Crash?

July 7, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 1175023_magnolia.jpgRecently, a Hall County collision between an SUV and a tractor trailer resulted in the deaths of three children and two adults. An absolutely tragic situation, this collision may have been caused by the sudden seizure of the SUV's driver. After this terrible tragedy occurred, the fiancé of the SUV's driver was interviewed and he told WSBTV that she should not have been driving and that the crash may have been caused by an epileptic seizure. It is possible that this horrific accident may well have been the result of a medically impaired driver who entered into oncoming traffic and directly into a tractor-trailer. It is devastating to the families involved, including the truck driver who was not at fault in this particular crash. Two of the driver's children were in the vehicle at the time of the crash and did not survive. One child decided to stay at home and play and another lives elsewhere. The other deceased passengers were very close family friends. The toxicology reports will come later, and whether the five deceased vehicle occupants were wearing seat belts is not known.

Some will remember that just last year, a truck driver suffered a medical emergency and crashed into a Gwinnett County strip mall. The driver passed away after crashing into two businesses. In that situation, the driver had just been at the doctor's office having a post-operative examination after eye surgery. He had been cleared by his doctors to return to work. Amazingly, no one in the businesses was harmed, including kids in a karate studio. In that accident, the driver also jumped the median.

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Summer Water Fun, Still Dangerous

June 26, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for swimming-pool-100155245.jpgThe recent report of a young, strong man losing his life in a swimming accident is another example of the dangers that summer swimming can bring. Reports indicate that the 20 year-old was taking a swim across a local pond in Brunswick, Georgia and was unable to make it across. When he called out for help from a friend who was with him, she was not able to get to her friend. She nearly drowned trying to help him. The young man's community and family are devastated as he was a be loved son, a brother and friend to many. This most recent pond tragedy occurred around the same time as several other Georgia drowning tragedies in our lakes and rivers. Only a couple of weeks ago, three drownings occurred at Lake Lanier. This terrible day on the lake included the death of a father who tried to save his son from drowning. They had been tossing a ball that went into the water and when the teen son went into the water to retrieve the ball, both ended up struggling for their lives as the dad tried to save his son. Neither was able to survive this struggle.

When these drowning accidents occur, we think again about water safety. Each situation is different and even when children, teens and adults know how to swim, it can be difficult in situations that involve natural water, currents and other objects. But as we know from recent local tragedies, including a child who fell into a club pool, these accidents can occur quickly and without warning. For example, there are about 400 teen and child drownings per year in the United States that involve pools and spas. The majority of these drownings take place at private homes and take the lives of kids under the age of five.

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"Look Again" for Child Safety

June 20, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 1175023_magnolia.jpgThis week our community has been the subject of national news coverage of another child left in a car to suffer heat stroke and die. The Today Show has reported on the tragedy just this morning. A Cobb County four-year-old life was cut short after his father allegedly failed to take him to day care, left him in the car and went to work, only to remember that he was in the back seat while driving home. According to USA Today, which picked up our local story, in the past 14 years, over 500 kids have lost their lives being left in vehicles in the heat. The child's dad has now been charged with murdering his son. Although there have been other cases in the past around the country in which parents have left kids in vehicles and gone to work, some are not charged at all after authorities conclude that the situation was purely accidental and others, as happened in this case, are charged with felonies as authorities determine that the severe negligence warrants a criminal charge. In this case, the father has been charged with two crimes under Georgia law, including cruelty to children in the first degree and murder.

Just last month, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal announced a campaign called "Look Again." This effort is targeted at parents and caregivers to check the back seat of their vehicles to avoid leaving a child behind. Often these cases involve parents who are distracted and going to work. In the past four years, nearly ten children have died in this way just in Georgia alone. In the Cobb County case, once the dad realized as he was driving home that his son was in the back seat, his efforts to revive his little boy were fruitless. He was said to be very distraught at the scene. There have been similar cases in which one parent is supposed to take a child to day care, but forgets. This situation can happen when a routine is broken or a parent is distracted. This week alone, a Florida infant was left behind her dad's truck and died.

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Change to Truck Driver "Restart" Rule May Falter

June 12, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Truck4.jpgWhat a difference a week makes. Last week, a United States Senate panel gave the green light to an amendment to federal law that would alter the existing rest and sleep requirements for truck drivers. Changing the rules that have been structured to avoid driver fatigue is controversial and has been brought front and center since the tragic crash in New Jersey last week that we posted on for our readers.

The proposed amendment to pull back on restrictions on driver hours, is viewed by many as a step in the wrong direction. Those who are involved in highway safety are against the change that would push back the requirement that truck drivers be allowed time off during certain hours and take consecutive hours off before restarting their work week. The existing rules were put in place only recently and after much study, to lower the risk of fatigue on drivers. Along with other provisions, the current rules mandate that drivers must take two nights of consecutive rest in the hours between 1 am and 5 am. -- also called the "restart" rule. The proponent of altering this rule claims that it puts more trucks on the roads in daylight hours which presents a safety risk to other drivers. Opponents of changing the rules have said that studies on driver fatigue indicate the rest is key to safer driving.

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Georgia Truck Driver Charged in Tracy Morgan Crash

June 10, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Truck4.jpgWalmart trucks are everywhere and most likely there are hundreds, if not thousands on the road in any given day in America. This past weekend a Walmart truck was involved in a terrible truck crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. Walmart has pledged to work with authorities after this weekend's tragic truck crash which left one man dead and several others critically injured, including Tracy Morgan.

The type of accident that took Morgan's comedy mentor's life -- is one that we have posted about in the past. It concerns a driver who is alleged to have fallen asleep at the wheel, swerving and then striking another vehicle that ended up overturned and engaged other vehicles in its wake. This is one of the most dangerous and common causes of serious truck crashes. The truck driver is now accused of several serious criminal counts, including vehicular homicide which is similar to Georgia's homicide by vehicle found at Official Code of Georgia section 40-6-393.

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Cobb County Hit and Run Causes Teen Deaths

May 31, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for iStock_000015148283XSmall.jpgThis past week, two teens lost their lives and one was injured after a tragic and senseless hit-and run crash. Before going further, we want to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and the community that is directly affected by this tragedy. Loss of young life, any life, in such a senseless way is all the more difficult to bear and comprehend. The community is mourning the loss of these young lives which occurred as three friends walked on a spring day on a local sidewalk. The teens were struck by a vehicle in which the driver lost control. The facts are under investigation, but the initial understanding is that the driver was speeding in an attempt to catch another vehicle whose driver avoided paying for locksmith services that had been performed. Allegedly, when the non-paying driver attempted to leave without paying, the locksmith chased him. The locksmith allegedly lost control of his car, which ended up on the sidewalk where the teens were walking and struck them. He is alleged to have left the scene after hitting the teens.

It is difficult to comprehend, but this is the scenario that the authorities have provided for the arrests of the locksmith driver and the non-paying customer. The driver who hit the teens was arrested later still fleeing from responsibility. Both drivers have now been arrested and both drivers are now charged with several violations of Georgia law, including homicide by vehicle in the first degree which is found at Official Code of Georgia section 40-6-393 and several other related charges. The locksmith is also accused of hit and run causing serious injury.

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GM Recalls Millions of Vehicles

May 25, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for iStock_000017099921XSmall.jpgBy now, most of us are aware that General Motors has had some explaining to do regarding the millions of vehicles it has recalled in recent months for various problems. Some of these problems could cause death or injury and already have in various accidents and situations. The company has had a rough time dealing with the negative publicity and Congressional interest in the culture that may have allowed these defects to creep into their vehicles. The company went through a bankruptcy and emerging from that with a new Chief Operating Officer, the company was also quickly hit with millions of recalls for a variety of defects in parts and systems that could cause serious injury and reportedly already 13 deaths related to faulty ignition switches. The company is hoping to recover from all of this by instituting a different culture, internal inspectors and other functions that are intended to begin a sea-shift in the company's culture.

Earlier this spring, CEO Mary Barra testified before the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. She took over the company lead in January of this year and although she has worked at the company for decades, she has committed to ensuring that it begin a new culture that is more focused on safety. She has reportedly begun an internal investigation and has issued a direct apology to Congress and effectively to the American consumer and those whose loved ones lost their lives due to faulty ignition switches that caused the deaths of thirteen people in vehicles built in about 2000. These catastrophic defects essentially turned off the ignition suddenly which in turn left those in the vehicle without air bag protections, braking capability and power steering.

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For Atlanta Parents: Time for Water and Pool Safety, Part Two

May 7, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for swimming-pool-100155245.jpgIn our latest post, we shared the sadness of the loss of two children in the Atlanta area in recent pool-related drownings. It is a tragedy for all of us when we lose a child in an accidental drowning. And over the past several years, the Atlanta area has seen a number of such tragic accidents including near-drownings in pools and lakes. We live in a beautiful area where we enjoy outdoor activities. We want to remind parents and caregivers about safety around pools, ponds and lakes. In addition to those outlined in our last post -- swimming lessons and fencing -- other key steps can be taken by caregivers and parents to help ensure safety around water with kids.

One of these key steps is close supervision. Just this past week, ABC News reported on a related pool safety issue: lifeguards. They are tasked with watching for dangerous situations in pools, but as parents should we really just rely on them? The piece questioned the wisdom of leaving kids at pools and relying on lifeguards to protect them from injury or drowning. The center of the piece was the tragic drowning of one family's child while at a club pool with a lifeguard on duty. Their life's work is now informing the public about taking responsibility for kids around water and not relying on someone else, including a lifeguard to make sure kids are safe.

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For Atlanta Parents: Time for Water & Pool Safety

May 3, 2014, by

swimming-pool-100155245.jpgEarlier this week, the pool at the Ansley Golf Club was the scene of the apparent accidental drowning of young girl. She was only four years old and was in her church preschool. The little girl's passing is being mourned by her community. Her memorial service took place earlier this week. The accidental drowning appears to have occurred with a life guard on duty. The reports on this tragedy indicate that she fell into the pool, but no one saw this happen and no one noticed that she had fallen in. Perhaps this was because the event at which this tragedy took place was a party for the beginning of the pool season. Another recent drowning occurred at a Hall County suburb and took the life a toddler who apparently fell into a private pool. These two tragedies underscore the need for vigilance when kids are around swimming pools, lakes and ponds over the summer. Even the bath tub or a wading pool can be lethal, so we all need to remind ourselves about the things that can keep kids safer around water and water play.

Our Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control have made many recommendations for parents and caregivers to keep kids safe in areas where water is present. It is important to review these recommendations, some of which are included here.
The extent of this problem might be surprising. Two of every ten fatalities involving drowning involve children. Statistically, these children are under the age of about fourteen. Nearly 4,000 people are involved in unintentional drownings on an annual basis. Drownings that do not cause death can result in other life-changing problems including brain damage and related catastrophic injuries. Having represented victims of catastrophic injury, these injuries not only impact the victim, but the family and friends of that victim. These life-changing injuries often require ongoing support for many years.

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Dad Arrested After Crash Causes Unborn Baby's Passing

April 18, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 1175023_magnolia.jpgAfter a very sad incident, a recent arrest in our area demonstrates what the law says about the death of an unborn child in a crash. In this accident, the baby's dad was driving the vehicle in which his wife was riding as a passenger. The Carroll County resident made an attempt to avoid responsibility for the passing of his unborn baby in this auto crash. But after investigation, he was arrested for the crime of feticide in the first degree as well as insurance fraud. The crime of feticide is found in Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-393.1. This crime carries a penalty of imprisonment for between two and 15 years. The death of an unborn baby is tragic under any circumstances. In this case, it is truly a somber event, given that the dad was at the wheel of the vehicle involved.

The father of the baby was driving in with his wife on South Cobb Drive and ended up on the wrong side of the road. He hit another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle sustained some significant injuries. And his pregnant wife was injured as well. But the unborn baby was not able to withstand the impact of the crash and died at WellStar Kennestone Hospital. Both the driver and his wife are alleged to have claimed that she was driving the car at the time of the crash. His license was already suspended and he was not supposed to be behind the wheel due to this fact. However, after a review of the evidence, the authorities determined that in fact the wife had not been the driver, the husband was driving and both allegedly tried to hide this fact. The parties have been charged with insurance fraud and the father of the baby faces the additional serious charges related to feticide.

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Distracted Driving Caused Cobb County Fatality

April 15, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for distracted driver.jpgThere is no doubt that distracted driving has become a dangerous practice among drivers throughout the country and within Georgia and the metro Atlanta area. Perhaps it is human nature to believe that we are above any tragedy that could occur if we text and drive or use our phones to make a call while trying to steer our vehicles. Unfortunately, this is actually a false sense of security, because it has been shown again and again that these distractions make it difficult for drivers to consistently manage the many faculties needed to properly and safely drive a motor vehicle. In a crash that occurred last month in the Austell area, one woman lost her life and another is now under arrest for this activity that is alleged to have caused a terrible crash on the C.H. James Parkway.

The driver alleged to have caused the crash that led to the death of a 36-year old female local basketball coach, had a text on her phone, calls that were received and a call that was made at the time of the crash. She apparently deleted the text to try to keep police from seeing that she had done this before the crash took place. But this information is not possible to delete or to avoid from the ultimate view of investigators in a situation like this. The police have finished their investigation and as a result, have charged the driver with a violation of Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 40-6-393 which includes second-degree homicide by vehicle. She has also been charged with violating involving driving too closely to the vehicle ahead of her and driving with a license that had expired.

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Teens Students' College Trip Ends in Bus Crash Tragedy

April 11, 2014, by

The Atlanta area has experienced its share of tragic accidents and their impact, including the heartbreaking accident that occurred two years ago in Florida in which several members of one Fulton County family were killed or injured. The loss of young life is always more difficult to comprehend. This morning we wake to the news that ten people have died, including teens, in a California crash. The crash occurred in the evening hours and involved a bus filled with Los Angeles area high school students on a trip to visit a college campus and a FedEx truck. The students were from various schools in the area and were already admitted to Humboldt State University. We pray that no additional lives are lost as a result of this accident. The first reports on this crash indicate that the FedEx tractor-trailor left its lane of traffic, possibly avoiding a small passenger car that was traveling ahead of the truck that was also at the scene. No one in that vehicle appears to have been injured. The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched a team of investigators to the accident scene to begin an extensive investigation about why this tragedy occurred.

Authorities in California have advised that the drivers of both the bus, as well as the FedEx driver, were killed as the impact of the crash resulted in a horrific fire. Five students and three of their chaperones also lost their lives in this accident. The bus had been a charter that was arranged by a state university campus in northern California. Apparently, as the bus and the FedEx truck passed on a major interstate in California known as Interstate 5 which traverses the state in a north - south direction, the truck traveled across the highway divider and hit the bus.

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Dangerous Lane Changes Cause Tractor-Trailer to Roll

April 7, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Truck3.jpgLate last month, a major accident occurred in Gwinnett County during the morning commute. As it happens, I was traveling nearby at the time and ended up behind the back-up and closures that resulted from this crash. This crash involved a tractor-trailer, but that vehicle did not cause the crash. What did cause the crash was the alleged reckless driver at the wheel of a minivan. The accident resulted in the death of one person and the serious injuries of another. What is most tragic is that as is the case with many motor vehicle crashes, the loss of life apparently could have been avoided.

We are all witness to those on our roads who endanger us all by driving recklessly. And in general tractor-trailers have a weight advantage over other smaller vehicles in an impact. But in this crash, the reports reveal that a minivan driver's actions may have caused the crash. The Atlanta Journal Constitution indicates that a minivan entered I-85 and began to drive in a hazardous manner moving across traffic lanes resulting a tractor trailer being cut off. The minivan hit the truck by clipping it on the front end, causing both vehicles to lose control. This series of events ended with the tractor and the trailer being separated and rolling over which resulted in the death of one occupant in the truck. The other individual in the truck was hospitalized. Authorities are unsure who was driving the tractor trailer. But what is apparently quite evident is that the driver of the minivan was at fault for the collision and the sequence of events that followed. She was not injured seriously.

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The Long-Term Impact of DUI Crashes

March 27, 2014, by

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for DrunkDriver3.jpgRecently, two incidents occurred in the Atlanta area involving allegations that the drivers involved were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. One of these involved the death of another driver. The other involved a school bus driver who is now facing allegations of DUI and endangerment of children. Some parents learned of this incident weeks after it occurred and are not pleased that it has taken so long for this incident to be reported to them. As a long-standing contributor to Georgia MADD and former board and and steering committee member, I cannot say enough about the deleterious impact of mixing alcohol or drugs and driving. When we can open the newspaper and find two such recent incidents in the Atlanta area, it causes me to consider once again at the statistics on what that picture looks like across America on any given day, week or month. More on this in a moment, but first what we know about these two incidents.

In one of these incidents, a man was killed in Marietta when he was driving on a local road in a vintage vehicle. His 1920's era Model A Ford was struck and traveled into and rolled over into oncoming traffic. The Model A driver was killed and his passengers injured in this tragic crash. The other driver, a woman from Sandy Springs, has been charged with a second degree vehicular homicide which is a misdemeanor charge in Georgia. This charge was made under Official Code of Georgia Annotated section 40-6-393. She voluntarily went to the Cobb County Sheriff's Office to face these charges and was released on bail. She was also charged with other violations which indicate that she was believed to have been following too closely and failing to exercise due care.

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Building Condemned After Gwinnett Transit & FedEx Crash

March 17, 2014, by

13329361961LpY40.jpgLate last fall, a deadly crash occurred involving a Gwinnett Transit bus and a FedEx vehicle. At the time of the accident, which tragically resulted in the death of the FedEx driver, it was determined by Atlanta authorities that the crash was caused by the bus as it went through a red light. The bus driver was seriously injured in the crash as well. The other devastating factor in this crash was that the impact of the two vehicles included the corner of what once was a church and had been renovated to house an upscale and architecturally interesting bar. The building's foundation was damaged in the incident so severely that it has now been condemned and will be demolished in the near future. Until the building can be taken down, traffic is being diverted around the area due to its instability and the potential for falling debris.

We have all heard of vehicles crashing into homes and other structures due to a driver's negligence, speeding, a medical condition or other situation in which the vehicle leaves the road and hits a home, business or other structure. In this crash, the vehicles collided in such a way as to hit the corner of the recently-remodeled historic building and the structure simply could not withstand the damage. The impact of these large vehicles created a situation that has now become so dangerous, the building must come down.

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