An area teen faces multiple charges after he fled the scene of a deadly tanker truck wreck in Sarasota.

According to authorities, a large tanker truck that was loaded with about 8,500 gallons of gasoline rear-ended a 2008 Volvo while both vehicles were southbound on Interstate 75 near Fruitville Road. The tanker truck driver – 53-year-old Robert Drewelus, of St. Petersburg – was ejected from the cab shortly before the truck exploded and died at the scene. The flames were so intense that first responders had to let the fire burn down before attempting to extinguish them. Investigators later tracked down the 16-year-old driver and 15-year-old passenger – whose names were not released – at the Lakewood Ranch community in Bradenton.

Even though he was not faulted for the crash, the young man was charged with the second degree felony of leaving the scene of a fatal crash; he was also charged with violating the terms of his learner’s permit.

Injuries in Truck Wrecks

Although he must deal with the legal consequences of his decision, the young man in the above story is actually very lucky, because in most wrecks that involve large trucks, passenger car occupants are unable to walk away. In fact, in many cases, they are never able to walk again.

Fully-loaded tractor-trailers weigh a minimum 80,000 pounds; double trailers and oversize flatbed trailers may weigh significantly more. At highway speeds, these vehicles deliver a tremendous amount of force in almost any collision. Furthermore, due to their weight and bulk, it is almost impossible for even experienced drivers to maneuver them during an emergency.

Given their amount of force and unwieldy nature, the injuries involved in large truck crashes are often catastrophic. Some common injuries include:

  • Severe Burns: Diesel fuel burns at a different temperature from gasoline, often resulting in serious second- and third-degree burns.
  • Blood Loss: Because the victims are often trapped inside their vehicles, the minutes tick by, and their wounds continue to bleed, as first responders try to reach them.
  • Crushed Bones: The truck’s weight makes it difficult to mend the victims’ broken bones, even with the use of metal plates and screws.

Damages in a truck crash almost always involve serious injuries, meaning that victims are entitled to compensation for both their economic and noneconomic losses.

Evidence in Truck Wrecks

Although the industry has fought rules requiring their use, a large number of tractor-trailers contain Event Data Recorders, which are similar to the “black boxes” in commercial airplanes.

Depending on the model, EDRs capture and record important crash-related data, like:

  • Steering angle,
  • Brake application,
  • Vehicle speed, and
  • Certain mechanical functions.

Many trucks also have dash cameras that record the drivers’ activities, like cellphone use, and Electronic Logging Devices, or ELDs, that accurately record drivers’ on and off-duty periods.

To preserve the EDR/ELD, and other evidence in the case, an attorney sends a spoliation letter to the insurance company. This correspondence informs the recipient that a lawsuit may be filed and that, as the custodian of evidence, there is a duty to preserve it for trial.

Contact Assertive Lawyers

Large truck wrecks cause significant damages. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Brandon, contact Reed & Reed today. You have a limited amount of time to act. From our office in Brandon, we help clients in Tampa, New Tampa, Plant City, East Hillsborough County and throughout the state of Florida.