Six Killed in Fiery Construction Zone Crash Near Fort Drum

The driver of an 18-wheeler that struck a line of cars in a northern New York construction zone last week claims he was alert but simply failed to see roadway signs warning drivers about the road project. 45-year-old James A. Mills Jr. was reportedly headed south with a full trailer load on a straight, downhill section of Route 11 when he hit a stopped sport utility vehicle from behind. Mills allegedly made an unsuccessful attempt to stop immediately prior to the impact. Still, the force of the crash sparked a chain reaction that eventually killed six people and damaged multiple vehicles.

During the crash, five people were killed when the sport utility vehicle they were traveling in caught fire. A woman in another sport utility vehicle died from the injuries she sustained when it flipped. Additionally, a New York State Department of Transportation employee was treated for critical injuries at a Syracuse hospital. According to witnesses, Mills pulled the injured man from his truck immediately before it ignited.

The cause of the accident is currently under investigation by a New York accident reconstruction team. State Police Investigator Rick Hathaway said Mills' mobile telephone records did not show any text messages or telephone calls immediately prior to the accident. He also said Mills did not appear to be impaired at the time of the collision. After the accident, Mills was taken to a local area hospital for toxicology tests and later released.

According to Hathaway, the New York Transportation Department inspected the placement of roadway warning signs at the time of the collision and concluded drivers were provided with adequate warning about the construction project. At this time it is unclear whether charges will be filed against Mills, but Hathaway stated Mills is cooperating fully with the ongoing police investigation.

Following the accident, the 18-wheeler involved in the crash was impounded for inspection by authorities. According to the nation's Motor Carrier Safety Administration, vehicles registered to the company that owns the tractor trailer, Meat Company Inc., were involved in 75 crashes during the last two years. Additionally, 23 of the collisions were injury accidents and one included a fatality. In 2012, approximately 11 percent of the company's federal vehicle inspections resulted in a fleet vehicle being removed from the roadways. About 2 percent of company drivers were also ordered to cease operations following such an inspection.

If you were hurt in an accident with an 18-wheeler, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, suffering and pain, and disability. If you lost a close family member in a truck accident, you may also be able to recover funeral expenses and other damages. Unfortunately, the amount of time you have to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim in New York is limited. A capable personal injury lawyer can explain your rights and options.

At the Paleudis Law Firm, LLC, our experienced Westchester personal injury lawyers are available to assist clients who were hurt by the driver of an 18-wheeler or other vehicle receive the compensation they deserve based on the severity of their injuries. With more than 45 years of combined experience, our dedicated and caring attorneys represent accident victims throughout the State of New York. To speak with a hardworking motor vehicle accident lawyer today, call the Paleudis Law Firm, LLC at (212) 835-6768 in New York City. You may also contact our skilled attorneys through the law firm's website.

Additional Resources:

Police: Driver was alert in NY crash that killed 6, Huffington Post