Orland Fatal Truck Accident
On 18 June, a semi-truck was travelling southbound on Interstate 5 south of Orland when it suddenly drifted towards the right shoulder of the highway. The vehicle then struck the sand-filled barrels and K-Rail along the shoulder. The truck continued through those objects and struck a concrete support pillar of a nearby overpass.
At this point, the vehicle caught fire in what witnesses described as a large explosion. The driver was unable to exit the vehicle before the fire. He was pronounced dead at the scene of the trucking accident.
All southbound lanes were shut down for several hours while emergency crews responded to the accident and cleared the scene of the debris.
Any Additional Injuries in Orland Fatal Truck Accident?
No other people were injured in the accident. However, several people began to struggle in the heat while stuck in traffic from the road closure. The long wait meant many people had to shut off their vehicles to prevent their engines from overheating. This left many people without any shield from the intense temperatures outside. Fortunately, no one suffered life threatening heat problems.
Determining What Went Wrong
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is investigating the accident. Many single-vehicle commercial trucking accidents like this one are caused by the drivers falling asleep. Truckers often drive for more than 12 straight hours, greatly increasing their risk of accident. The risk of accidents is further increased on long, straight interstates like I-5 as the lack of variation in the road can help lull a driver to sleep.
There is no proof of this in this accident so far, but the CHP will likely review the driver’s previous week to determine if him falling asleep at the wheel makes sense. Truck driver fatigue is a very real problem on our highways and leads to a multitude of devastating accidents.
About the Resulting Fire
A key issue in this wreck was the fire after the initial crash as this is what likely killed the driver. Fires are not uncommon with big rig accidents. In fact, one day after this accident on 19 June, a big rig caught fire in Duarte after crashing into another vehicle. However, understanding the cause of the fire is still important because fires in semi-truck accidents may be caused by a mechanical defect.
Commercial trucks typically run on diesel fuel. Diesel fuel has a much higher ignition point than gasoline. This means commercial trucks are actually less likely to catch fire because a ruptured fuel tank alone is likely insufficient for igniting a fire.
A semi-truck accident needs an additional spark to ignite the fuel and cause a fire. This spark typically comes from an issue in the engine, a wiring problem, or some other feature of the area of the crash.
Potential NTSB Investigation
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) may investigate this accident to determine if there was a defect in the truck or in the highway that contributed to the accident. If NTSB investigators do find a flaw in either the engine or the highway, the engine manufacturer or the government may be liable for damages.
Related Articles by Ed Smith ~
Orland Truck Accident & Wrongful Death Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith and I am an Orland truck accident lawyer. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, call me at (530) 392-9400 for free, friendly advice. You may also call me toll-free at (800) 404-5400.
In my career, I have obtained million-dollar settlements and verdicts, allowing me to be a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
Image Attribution: Top Photo (Own Work) by PRA, via Wikimedia Commons, Bottom Photo – Orland Trucking Accident Lawyer, Ed Smith
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