Whenever, wherever a person passes away it can certainly be a sad event for the friends and relatives of that individual. A death in the family can thrust lives into turmoil and shake some people’s faith to the core; and this can happen under the most normal of circumstances, much less in the aftermath of a seemingly senseless and random traffic accident. When a person dies as a result of a car or motorcycle accident, the many ask the question, Is no one safe from the indiscriminate hand of fate?
As a Maryland personal injury attorney, I understand how the days and weeks following the death of a loved one can be a confusing and emotional time. Even under the best circumstances, such as the passing of an elderly relative by natural causes, we wonder if anything else could have been done. Certainly, as is the case of many roadway collisions, the victim’s family has even more questions; why did this happen, who is to blame, how can we cope with our loss?
In the wake of a serious and fatal car wreck or commercial truck accident, the family’s anger and upset can be blinding, especially in those instances where the loved one’s death was likely a result of certain negligent actions of another individual. A little while ago, we ran across a news item concerning the criminal aspect of a fatal trucking-related accident that happened back in 2010.
According to news reports, the 49-year-old commercial trucker whose tractor-trailer rig struck and killed a Stevenson University professor in an out-of-state highway accident two years ago pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular homicide. Douglas Bouch, who police said fell asleep while driving his triple-trailer semi was sentenced to five years in jail as a result of that accident.
Based on news reports at the time, Bouch was behind the wheel of that truck around noon on August 16, 2010, when it slammed into a Ford Focus containing 47-year-old Susan Slattery and her two sons. The crash, which involved five other vehicles, was blamed on driver fatigue.
At the time of the wreck, Slattery was apparently returning from a family vacation in the Midwest with her two sons. Bouch’s tractor-trailer rig smashed into the rear-end of Slattery’s vehicle, which then caused her car to be pushed into the path of another 18-wheeler, where it was hit once again.
Slattery reportedly died in her badly damaged vehicle before EMS crews could render medical treatment. The woman’s two sons, age 12 and 16, were also trapped in the car; however, the boys survived the crash and were transported to a local hospital in serious condition. At the time of the accident, state highway patrol authorities believed that driver fatigue was likely a major factor in the death of the woman and the serious injury of her two children.
A damning statement at the time of the crash came from the trucker himself, who reportedly told police at the scene of the accident that he dozed off “for a few seconds” just before the accident. Although he claimed to have tried to take evasive action after regaining consciousness, it was apparently too late. Police said that Bouch admitted starting work at 3am the morning of the crash after only having had three hours.
According to news reports, Slattery’s husband said that he hoped that the sentencing of Bouch would perhaps send a message to the U.S. Congress, as well as the trucking industry, that the deadly problem of truck driver fatigue needs to be addressed. Slattery has apparently campaigned in Washington, D.C., for more stringent trucking safety regulations.
Driver whose truck hit, killed woman gets five years, BaltimoreSun.com, January 12, 2012