Columbia, SC, 2/8/06. A seven-vehicle pileup on I-26 Wednesday morning killed a husband and wife, sent 12 people to hospitals and shut down the eastbound lanes for more than five hours, authorities said. Steven Robert Gerth and Nancy Dianne Gerth, both 65, of St. Cloud, Minn., died at the scene. Their Toyota Camry was crushed by an 18-wheeler. The car was pinned under the cab and pushed along the highway. The wreck occurred at about 9 a.m. on an already-congested I-26 under the Shady Grove Road overpass.
One witness said she was trying to navigate the frequent stop/start traffic flow. “When we all started rolling again, you could hear the collision behind you.” She next saw the 18-wheeler fly past her on the right, but it happened so fast she didn’t realize it had a car pinned beneath it.
The Gerths were both wearing their seat belts. They were on their way to a vacation in Georgia.
The news stories thus far don’t provide information about the truck driver. However, we often see cases in which fatigued, sleep-deprived long-haul truckers plow right on through cars slowed or stopped ahead of them on interstate highways. A couple of weeks ago I had a deposition of a truck driver who confessed to me that he had been driving 20 of 24 hours before he rear-ended a slower moving vehicle on an interstate highway and all his logs were falsified. At this point we could do no more than speculate about fatigue factors affecting the trucker in the I-26 crash, whether he had violated hours of service regulations, and whether he was driving on cruise control when too tired to be attentive.
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a “SuperLawyer” in Atlanta Magazine and one of the “Legal Elite” in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).