A routine traffic jam turned tragic on Highway 40 in St. Louis on July 15, 2008 when — without warning – a semi truck plowed through 10 stopped cars in a horrific fatal semi truck accident.
Three wrongful deaths, seven major injuries, three moderate injuries and another three minor injuries were the result of the semi truck accident that was caused when distracted truck driver Jeffrey D. Knight reached for his cell phone without noticing a traffic jam in front of him. One of the crash victims, 53-year-old Mark Tiburzi, suffered a traumatic brain injury in the semi truck collision, and he and his wife were awarded an $18 million personal injury settlement for the semi truck crash from Holmes Transport, the trucking company that employed Knight.
Our brain injury lawyers know that traumatic brain injuries can change your life in an instant. One moment you’re fine, and then — after a serious car accident — you’re no longer able to live a normal life. Mr. Tiburzi’s brain injury has left him in need of constant medical care, and he will likely live the rest of his life in a nursing home. Furthermore, he cannot talk to or care for his wife for the rest of his life.
“I’ve lost a part of myself,” said Cheri Tiburzi, his wife of 25 years. “A part of me is gone.”
Knight is facing involuntary manslaughter charges stemming from the semi truck accident, and there are at least four other unresolved personal injury claims against Holmes Transport. Court documents claim that Holmes Transport and Knight violated trucking regulations by driving beyond the maximum hours allowed over an eight-day period.
Witnesses said that there was little warning before the semi truck accident began. One man claims that the semi truck was going about 75 mph and didn’t slow down when approaching the stopped traffic in front of it.
Why didn’t the semi truck slow down?
Because the truck driver was distracted while using his cell phone.
“I reached across the dash to get my cell phone,” said Knight, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol report. “I flipped the phone open, looked back at traffic, and I was there right at the last car (in the line of cars stuck in traffic). I didn’t see any brake lights or emergency flashers. After I hit the first car, I just remember holding the steering wheel and seeing cars going to my left and right.”
The damage of Knight’s distracted driving was nothing less than catastrophic.
“(The semi truck driver) basically ran over several vehicles,” said Sergeant Al Nothum of the Missouri Highway Patrol.
Charles Cason was in the first car that was rear-ended in Knight’s semi truck crash. The 55-year-old was killed instantly. Nine cars and two more wrongful deaths — Lynda Miller, 55, and Alivin Mast, 88 — later, Knight’s semi truck finally came to a stop with several cars lodged in it or crushed beyond recognition.
“This (driver) inattention and recklessness caused a tragedy for us,” said Ryan Cason, Charles Cason’s son.
Distracted drivers — namely cell phone users — are a major cause of auto accidents. As semi truck accident attorneys, we know that big rig and tractor trailer crashes often result in catastrophic injuries to other drivers.
Here are some semi truck accident statistics from Missouri Highway Patrol in 2006:
- Semi trucks were involved in 10.3% of all automobile accidents in Missouri.
- Semi trucks were involved in 15.7% of all fatal accidents in Missouri.
- There were 191 wrongful deaths in semi truck accidents.
- There were 4,857 personal injuries in semi truck accidents.
- Every 1.7 hours a person was killed or injured in a semi truck accident.
When truck drivers use their cell phone while driving, they are putting you and everyone else on the road at risk for wrongful death. Furthermore, when truck drivers and truck companies forge their records, they are also putting your life in danger and risks putting you in the hosptial for medical treatment for your personal injuries.
“I am sorry,” Knight said. “This probably would not have happened if I would not have been on my cell phone.”
For using his cell phone while driving, Knight caused three wrongful deaths and a traumatic brain injury that has all but killed another man. How many lives must be lost before we stop distracted drivers and forged trucking records?
Please contact us for a free consultation with an experienced brain injury attorney or semi truck accident lawyer — we speak both English and Spanish — at (800) 655-6585. Click here and you may also submit your case for a Free Review. No fee if no recovery.