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Water Tanker Truck Driver Killed in Napa Accident on Oakville Grade


Water Tanker Truck Driver Killed in Napa Accident on Oakville Grade

I’m Ed Smith, a Napa truck accident lawyer. A rollover accident claimed the life of the 41st person killed in the wildfires that spread through Northern California. The water tender driver was headed downhill to refill the tanker.

I’d like to take this opportunity to express my condolences to the family of this brave firefighter, Garrett Paiz, who lost his life in this tragic accident.

The Accident Details

At about 6:45 a.m. on October 16, a volunteer firefighter from the state of Missouri was descending Oakville Grade, a tricky road between Oakville and Glen Ellen on the western side of Highway 29, when his water tanker hit a sharp turn in the road, flipped over and fell down a 20-foot ravine, a spokesperson for the Napa California Highway Patrol (CHP) reported. The road was closed to other vehicles. Authorities said the 1993-model year Kenworth landed on its left side before bursting through the guardrail and descending the hill. The driver, identified as Garrett Paiz, 38, was driving for a private company working with Cal Fire to fight the blaze.

Reason for the Accident

The CHP is in the process of investigating the accident, and the precise reason Paiz lost control of the tanker truck is unknown at the time of this report. There is no indication at what speed the truck was traveling or whether driver fatigue was involved. It is known that the tanker portion detached from the cab, and as of Monday, both remained at the bottom of the hill.

Water Tender Trucks – Stopping Distance

A water tender truck is a tanker truck that carries water. A driver faces special challenges when driving a tanker truck such as the surge the fluid will cause in the tank when its load is reduced. The fluid surge often pushes the tanker truck in the direction of the fluid, so stopping slowly and not making quick turns at a high speed are important. A driver needs to calculate the stopping distance carefully, particularly on hilly roads.

Rollovers on Curves

Rollovers are particularly common on curves such as those found on entrance and exit ramps and rural roads. When the truck’s speed exceeds the speed calculated for the weight of the truck, a rollover is almost inevitable. Another cause of rollover is when the driver overcorrects after losing control, especially when the wheels of the truck leave the roadway.

High Center of Gravity

Tanker trucks require special training to drive due to their high center of gravity. Since the truck’s load is high from the ground, the vehicle is easy to overturn. In fact, even traveling at the speed limit for curves can result in a rollover accident.  It is best to slow down when entering a curve, speeding up gradually.

Hours of Service in a Tank Truck

According to the California DMV, the hours of service for a tank truck driver are limited to 10 hours for tankers with a holding capacity of more than 500 gallons. The number of hours is logged, and exceeding the requirement for rest can result in a catastrophic accident, such as brain trauma.

Liability for the Accident

Although this was an emergency situation, a trucker should not be expected to drive a truck that has not been maintained appropriately. A company truck must be inspected and any deficiencies corrected. If the tires or brakes are defective or worn, the truck may be more prone to rollover accidents. In addition, driving a tanker truck on a hilly, curved road requires that the driver is vetted to have the necessary training.

Related Articles by Truck Accident Lawyer Ed Smith ~

Napa Truck Accident Lawyer

I am Ed Smith, a Napa truck accident lawyer. When a truck accident happens, the potential for traumatic injury to those in passenger vehicles is high. If you have been involved in a truck accident or if someone you love has died due to the negligent acts of a trucking company, turn to me for friendly and free advice. Just phone me at (707) 564-1900 locally and (800) 404-5400 nationwide.

I belong to the Million Dollar Advocates, a group of top trial lawyers from all over the country. Each member has garnered $1 million or higher verdict on behalf of their clients.

I have worked with Northern California residents for 35 years as an injury lawyer, including those in Napa Valley, on cases of wrongful death and serious injuries such as spinal cord damage.

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