This past Saturday, six people were killed in a Church van fatal rollover accident on the New York State Thruway just north of Harriman. The accident happened when a rear tire blew out, causing the driver to over correct, the van to roll over several times, and nine passengers to be ejected from the vehicle. The church group was on their way from the Bronx to a banquet in Schenectady, New York.
Tragically, the Ford Econoline van that the 14 passengers were riding in is known, as other 15 passenger vans are, for being prone to rollovers, and particularly when the vans are at full capacity. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire failures are the most common cause of fatal rollovers in passenger vans. Apparently, the rear tires in the vans are placed under tremendous stress when large passenger loads shift the center of gravity to the rear. The vans have a tall center of gravity and poor rear suspension, so that when at full capacity, the center of gravity is increased upward and toward the rear axle. Then, when there is a tire failure, the van will fishtail and rotate, going into a sideways rollover.
Certainly, requiring van manufactures to install rear seat belts would lessen the severity of accidents, as all of the fatalities in this accident involved rear passengers who were not belted and were ejected through the windows and killed. According to the NHTSA, from 2003 through 2007, 473 occupants of vans died in crashes, and of these, 56% were rollovers. A full 80% of those killed were not wearing seatbelts. The NHTSA has issued safety recommendations for the operation of passenger vans, which include keeping tires properly inflated, requiring that drivers have commercial licenses, and seating passengers, to the extent possible, near the front of the van. in 2002, The National Transportation Safety Board reported that over a 20 year period, the rollover rate for fully loaded passenger vans was about three times the ratio of vans with fewer than 5 passengers.
The six people killed in the September 18 accident were Bishop Simon White, his wife, Zelda White, the Rev. Titus McGhie, Avril Murray, Evelyn Ferguson, and Elaine Reid. State Police investigators are still seeking a statement from the the driver of the van, Bernard Lallibeaudiere, who is undergoing treatment at St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie.
Contact the Westchester County Car Crash lawyers online or toll free at 888-761-7633 if you are seriously injured in any type of accident for a free consultation with an experienced trial attorney who will fight the insurance companies from inception to trial to maximize compensation for your pain and suffering, lost earnings, medical/hospital expenses, and loss of enjoyment of life.