Twenty people were injured on Wednesday, May 23, including five critically, when an impaired driver operating a semi struck a school bus. The bus was carrying students from Hope Christian School in Milwaukee. Students were on their way to the Wisconsin Dells for an end of the year field trip.
The bus was pulled over on the shoulder of I39/90 near Lodi due to mechanical problems when the semi struck the bus from behind. Sgt. Greg Jensworld stated that more than half the semi was on the shoulder when it impacted the bus. Twenty of the thirty-three bus passengers were injured, and five had serious injuries. Two passengers had to be airlifted to the hospital.
The driver of the truck, Wayne Murphy, was booked on 5 counts of causing injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Murphy’s employer stated that he had only been driving for an hour. However, state troopers had already received calls reporting Murphy as a reckless driver before the accident. The 42-year-old Murphy, from Indianapolis, reportedly had opioids and a tranquilizer in his system at the time of the crash. Columbia County DA Jane Kohlwey expects to file felony charges of operating a motor vehicle under the influence and reckless endangerment soon.
Tragic Impact Of The Crash
To see the impact impaired driving has, you need look no further than 15-year-old Alexis Jenkins. Alexis suffered broken bones, punctured lungs, and was breathing on a ventilator after the accident. In an interview with CBS 58, her grandma described the tremendous grief the driver’s alleged reckless and irresponsible conduct has caused: “He’s put a hole in my heart. My granddaughter was going on a field trip. She was graduating today and he put a hole in my heart. She will never be the same.”
If you’d like to donate to the recovery of Alexis Jenkins, click here.
Large Truck Accident Statistics
This truck accident implicates the extensive damage large trucks can cause on roadways. There are currently more than 2 million semis that operate on U.S. roadways. There are over 500,000 large truck accidents annually which result in approximately 5,000 fatalities nationwide. Fatal large truck accidents tend to occur on weekdays during the daytime. The majority also occur on highways in rural areas. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration illustrates these tendencies:
- Approximately 61 percent of all fatal large truck accidents occurred in rural areas, 27 percent occurred on Interstate highways, and 15 percent fell into both categories by occurring on rural Interstate highways.
- The majority of fatal large truck accidents (84 percent) and nonfatal large truck accidents (88 percent) occurred on weekdays (Monday through Friday).
- In 2016, 4,440 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes, a 2-percent increase from 2015. The number of large trucks and buses in fatal crashes has increased by 29 percent from its low of 3,432 in 2009.
- The number of injury crashes involving large trucks or buses increased 62% from 60,000 in 2009 to 97,000 in 2015. In 2016, there were an estimated 119,000 injury crashes, based on NHTSA’s new CRSS data collection.
Although a large truck accident may be caused by an array of factors including road conditions, driver-related reasons are often the issue. Driver fault can be divided into four categories:
- Non-Performance: The driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs, fell asleep, or was disabled by a heart attack or seizure.
- Recognition: The driver was inattentive, was distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle, or failed to observe the situation adequately for some other reason.
- Decision: For example, the driver was driving too fast for conditions, misjudged the speed of other vehicles, or followed other vehicles too closely.
- Performance: For example, the driver panicked, overcompensated, or exercised poor directional control.
In 2016, at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 32 percent of the large truck drivers in fatal crashes. “Decision” was the most frequent driver-related factor, followed by “Recognition,” “Performance,” and “Non-Performance.”
What To Do If You See A Reckless Driver
Obviously, semis are much heavier than passenger cars and thus often cause more serious injuries and property damage. Therefore, it is essential to be on the lookout for semis that are driving recklessly or suspiciously. If you see a semi or any type of vehicle display any sort of erratic behavior, do not hesitate to call 911 to report the activity. These reports could save lives.
Unfortunately, many terrible events like the school bus accident near Lodi occur regardless of proper reporting. If you are injured in an accident caused by a large truck in Wisconsin, you may be able to be compensated for property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It is important to contact a personal injury attorney right away to ensure that your rights are protected.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a large truck or intoxicated driver, contact a skilled, dedicated, and proven personal injury attorney to discuss your options as a victim of a crash.