AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. — Shawn P. Dick, a 32-year-old man from Paw Paw, W. Va., died Feb. 1 after a tractor-trailer crashed into a work zone truck on Interstate 81.
The work zone truck, identified as a Ford F-650, was stopped in the left northbound lanes of I-81 at about 5 a.m. with its arrow board activated and amber lights flashing for a highway work zone crew setting up cones to establish a work zone.
Local authorities said a northbound tractor-trailer rear-ended the Ford while it was stationary. The impact from the collision caused the Ford to run into the median and overturn. The tractor-trailer ran off the left side of the interstate and came to rest in the median.
Dick was driving the Ford and reportedly working for the Virginia Department of Transportation as a contractor at the time of the accident. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Emergency personnel transported the tractor-trailer driver, a 23-year-old Baltimore, Md., resident, to Augusta Health for treatment of injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening. Authorities said he was wearing an accident when the crash occurred. His name has not been released.
An investigation into the accident is ongoing, and no additional information has been released.
Commentary on the Fatal Semi-Truck Accident in Virginia
This accident was preventable. Either this driver was distracted, or the truck experienced a mechanical failure that rendered the driver’s control over the vehicle futile. Further information will need to be determined before a conclusion can be drawn.
Since mechanical failure is relatively rare, this driver was likely distracted, tired, or impaired. The accident occurred at 5 a.m., suggesting the driver was fatigued and possibly fell asleep at the wheel. Arrow board lights are bright and would likely draw the attention of a conscious driver. I wonder if this driver was pushed beyond legal limits to meet a deadline. Having performed extensive work on cases similar to this, I have found carriers are often subjected to strict deadlines that carry severe consequences when broken. The driver failing to stay on schedule, poor planning, or prior issues could have pushed this driver to the deadline and past legal driving limits. The employer’s role in this accident will need to be considered to ensure all parties are accounted for.
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