HARRISBURG, Illinois- 50-year-old Michael Woodley was pronounced dead at a local hospital following a four-vehicle collision that required another driver to be flown to a regional medical center.
According to reports, Woodley was driving a Ram truck when he suddenly swerved into northbound traffic, side-swiped two vehicles, and ultimately hit a Kenworth tractor-trailer head-on.
Authorities reported that Woodley was killed in the crash and that the driver of the tractor-trailer was life-flighted to a regional hospital for treatment. No other injuries were reported.
No further details were immediately available.
Thoughts on fatal truck accident and potential causes of the initial loss of control
Our hearts go out to the family of Mr. Woodley in the wake of the loss of their loved one. While we are still waiting on many details from this accident, we feel it is unlikely Mr. Woodley chose to swerve his vehicle into oncoming traffic but likely lost control of his vehicle for some reason. There are a variety of reasons why a driver may lose control of their vehicle, and our investigative team has ample experience conducting thorough investigations to answer this question.
One of the most common reasons for driver loss of control is a mechanical failure of some kind. A tire blowout, or a failure of the braking and/or steering systems can result in the driver losing control immediately, and the consequences can be disastrous. If there is any evidence of a mechanical failure, we would want to explore the possibility that perhaps there was a design flaw or an inherent defect for which the Woodley family could recover against the manufacturer of the Ram. We would also want to investigate any recent repairs that may have been done and whether there is any opportunity for the family to recover against the relevant service shop.
Further, we would want to be aware of any crash avoidance or driver-assist technology that may have been in operation at the time of the crash. These technologies are standard in newer cars and are designed to help drivers remain aware of changing road conditions, upcoming obstacles, and slowing traffic, and help them avoid accidents by keeping them within their lane and engaging emergency braking when appropriate. If an investigation were to find that this technology was present but failed or malfunctioned in such a way that it may have contributed to the crash, the Woodley family may be able to recover against the technology manufacturer.
Regardless of what the official investigation finds, we always advocate for an independent legal investigation, particularly in cases like this, where there is not an obvious cause of the accident. Resource constraints often mean that official investigations stop at the first identified cause. Unfortunately, we find many accidents have more than one cause, and we do not stop our investigation until all causes have been identified.