QUAY COUNTY, N.M. – A single-vehicle rollover near mile marker 333 on Interstate 40 killed two people and injured eight at about 5 p.m. on Dec. 17 in Tucumcari.
New Mexico State Police have not released information about how the crash occurred, but they said two people were airlifted to an area hospital and six passengers were transported to the hospital by an ambulance.
Authorities have not released the identities of the victims.
Commentary on the fatal rollover accident in Tucumcari, New Mexico
I was deeply disturbed to learn of the devastating rollover accident in Tucumcari, New Mexico, that killed two people and injured eight others. I have worked as a personal injury and product defect attorney for the last 30 years. In that time, we have made great advances in automobile manufacturing. With the technology, the engineering safety studies, and manufacturing experience that we have behind us, I am dumbfounded that rollover fatalities still occur on such a frequent basis.
From the sparse information reported, 10 passengers appear to have been involved in this one-vehicle accident. There is no indication as to what factors contributed to the accident. Since the rollover occurred in the late afternoon, fatigue or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is less likely. Possibly distracted driving, an obstruction in the road, or weather conditions contributed to the crash.
Regardless, automobile manufacturers have a duty to build vehicles according to government and industry standards and guidelines. Roof strength to weight ratio studies indicate the quality of materials and engineering necessary to keep passengers safe in a rollover. The type of vehicle involved in the accident has not been reported; therefore, we cannot determine what the engineering and safety standards are.
From the information given, we do not know whether this was a private or commercial vehicle, and what relationship the passengers held to each other. Only a handful of private vehicles will accommodate 10 passengers legally and safely—generally, 12- to 15- passenger vans. If this is a commercial vehicle, there is a greater variety of vehicles capable of transporting this number of individuals.
If the vehicle involved is a commercial vehicle, additional factors may need to be considered. For instance, was the driver properly licensed and trained to operate a commercial vehicle? Was the vehicle in proper working condition?
Many questions will remain unanswered until a thorough investigation is conducted to determine the factors that contributed to the rollover and whether any culpability exists.
I extend my deepest condolences to the loved ones of the deceased and hope for a full and speedy recovery for the injured.
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