Personal Injury

Deadly crashes in Alabama on U.S. 82 underscore importance of wearing seat belts, using child safety seats

Log truck accident Chilton County Alabama image from WBRC news video 375x210 Deadly crashes in Alabama on U.S. 82 underscore importance of wearing seat belts, using child safety seatsLaw enforcement authorities in Chilton County, Ala., continue to investigate the deadly crash of an SUV and a log-hauling tractor trailer that killed two women and two children on a U.S. highway June 8.

Officials said that a Nissan Pathfinder driven by Destini Monique Davis, 21, of Montgomery, struck a 2004 Mack tractor trailer with such force that it toppled the truck.

The impact killed Ms. Davis and her passenger Tarlanda Davenport, 22. Two children, an infant younger than 1 year old and a toddler younger than 2 years old, were also killed. All four were pronounced dead at the scene.

Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Corporal Jess Thornton told the women in the Pathfinder were not wearing seatbelts and neither child was properly secured with child restraints.

The driver of the truck was also injured in the crash and taken to a hospital for treatment, officials said.

The crash was the second deadly crash to occur on U.S. Highway 82. In the early morning of June 6, 11-year-old Niomi James and 12-year-old Jayla Parler were killed when former NASA astronaut and space shuttle commander James Halsell Jr., 59, crashed a rented Chrysler into a Ford Fiesta occupied by the two girls.

The crash occurred on a stretch of U.S. 82 just east of Tuscaloosa. Mr. Halsell was reportedly driving from Huntsville, where he lives, to Monroe, La., to pick up his son.

Authorities said State Police found an empty wine bottle and an empty package of sleeping pills in a hotel room where Mr. Halsell had been staying. They also said he was likely speeding when he hit the Ford from behind, pushing it across the left lane and causing it to flip twice, ejecting both sisters from the vehicle.

Mr. Halsell was arrested and charged with murder for deaths of Niomi and Jayla.

State Troopers noted parallels between the U.S. 82 crashes, indicating that the occupants of the vehicles might have survived had they been wearing safety belts and child restraints.

Alabama state Sen. Gerald Allen, who has unsuccessfully pushed for a state seat belt law that would require backseat passengers to buckle up, told Birmingham’s WVTM that the crashes underscore the importance of seatbelts and urged motorists to use the life-saving devices.

“Just slow down and make sure everyone in the vehicle is buckled and just be aware of how important that is,” Sen. Allen said.

WVTM Channel 13
NBC News