Police are investigating what caused the horrific early morning crash between a sedan and an oil tanker on New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway that killed four young men the day after Christmas.
What’s known at this time from news reports is that at about 2:50 a.m., 21-year-old Kevin Quispe-Prieto, of Beachwood, New Jersey, slammed his Infiniti G37 sedan into the back of a tanker traveling in the right-hand lane of the southbound Parkway at milepost 81.5 near Toms River.
Quispe-Prieto and his three passengers — his 23-year-old brother Jimmy Quispe-Prieto, 24-year-old Victor Lugo and 23-year-old Robert Ordenana, all from Lakewood, New Jersey — died at the scene. Ordenana was a U.S. Marine.
The tanker driver, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, called 911 after the impact, which was so forceful that the sedan became crumbled and wedged under the rear of the tanker.
Officials said that Quispe-Prieto was accelerating onto the Parkway from the right lane when the collision occurred. There is no official word yet as to whether the tanker was moving at the time of the crash or whether alcohol was involved.
According to one news report, a “hump” in the highway approaching the crash scene has been blamed for past rear-end crashes in the area.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 3,986 people died in large truck crashes in 2016. Some 66 percent were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 16 percent were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists.
IIHS identifies the main problem as being the vulnerability of people traveling in smaller cars. According to IIHS, trucks often weigh 20-30 times as much as passenger cars, and they are taller with greater ground clearance. This can result in dire consequences when smaller vehicles underride trucks in crashes.
In New Jersey, in 2016 there were 30 tractor-trailers involved in 28 fatal crashes that resulted in 29 fatalities, according to the New Jersey State Police Fatal Accident Investigation Unit.
Oil tankers pose their own unique set of risks when involved in violent collisions in that their cargo is highly flammable, can explode on impact, and can create other hazardous situations when spilled.
When deadly tractor-trailer and oil tanker accidents occur, there are a number of parties with potential legal liability, Feldman Shepherd attorney John M. Dodig, a NJ Certified Civil Trial Attorney, said. Dodig’s practice focuses on trucking and other motor vehicle accidents including dangerous roadway design and maintenance, involving catastrophic personal injuries.
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