BARTON COUNTY, Kan.—Eric M. Steinert, a 36-year-old Russell resident, died Jan. 13 when his semi collided with another and caught fire.
Steinert was driving a Mack truck configured as a water hauler southbound on Northeast 130 Avenue when the accident occurred, according to local authorities. A preliminary investigation found that his vehicle collided with a westbound Peterbilt truck hauling a Kenworth truck tractor on a flatbed trailer that failed to yield to the right-of-way.
At about 12:20 p.m., deputies arrived on the scene and found all three vehicles in the west ditch engulfed in flames. The fire spread down the ditch on both sides of the roadway and set fire to two fields and several bales of hay. Firefighters worked quickly to bring the flames under control.
Steinert was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. The driver of the Peterbilt, 66-year-old David P. Wirth, of Ellinwood, was treated at Great Bend regional hospital and released.
The accident remains under investigation.
Thoughts and Commentary on the Eric M. Steinert Crash in Barton County, Kansas
Many of us have experienced the frustration of a fellow driver failing to yield the right-of-way. Drivers have a duty to maintain a proper lookout and yield to drivers who have established the travel lane. Failure to do this is illegal and highly dangerous. Unfortunately, from the reports provided, the driver of the Peterbilt failed to follow the law, and as a result, Mr. Eric M. Steinert lost his life.
In addition to the lack of attention by the Peterbilt driver, I am concerned Mr. Steinert’s truck erupted in flames. Vehicles are designed to withstand the impact of an accident without catching fire. Engineers spend considerable energy conducting tests to mitigate the risk of fire upon collision. Was this Mack truck sufficiently tested before production? Nothing in the report suggests the accident was outside normal conditions. For instance, the higher the speed, the greater the chance results outside the manufacturer’s control will occur. However, fires should not happen when the impact is within the bounds of a manufacturer’s designed limits.
I extend my condolences to Mr. Steinert’s family and hope for their solace during this time of grief.
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