Testimony opens in Ste. Genevieve, Mo. tractor trailer accident trial

Amelia Flood Nov. 10, 2010, 9:35am


A Missouri highway patrol officer and accident reconstructionist testified Wednesday in a Madison County trial involving a 2007 Ste. Genevieve County, Mo. traffic accident.

Plaintiffs Thomas and Betty Edwards are suing Gary Collier and his employer, Millstadt Rendering Co., for injuries Thomas Edwards suffered when the tractor trailer he was driving collided with part of a Millstadt truck driven by Collier along Interstate 55.

Thomas Edwards had to be cut from his truck and airlifted for medical care.

Officer Brent Fowler testified via video deposition that he did not find any fault at the time of the accident's original investigation with Thomas Edwards.

Fowler admitted there were not tests of Thomas Edwards' vision or blood sugar at the accident scene and that he did not personally interview Thomas Edwards following the accident.

He also testified that he had been a trucker prior to joining law enforcement and that he had never lost control of his vehicle when drive tires – part of a truck's tire system – failed.

The trial opened Tuesday with a day-long jury selection.

The defense alleges that Thomas Edwards could have avoided the accident and that his diabetes and poor vision played a role in the crash.

Accident reconstruction expert David Shigemura of New Berlin, Ill. was the next witness to take the stand for the plaintiff.

After explaining accident reconstruction terms to the jury, Shigemura testified under direct examination that he did not believe blown tires caused Collier to lose control of his tractor trailer.

"It's a matter of roadway evidence," Shigemura said.

Shigemura said that marks he would have expected to find on the roadway leading up to the accident site were not present and the site's geometry didn't match a blown tire-loss of control situation.

Shigemura testified that the tires were not central to keeping control of a truck.

"Stepping on the brake will cause more of a deceleration at that point than two flat tires," Shigemura said. "Many times a truck driver will be driving down the road without even knowing they have flat tires."

Shigemura testified that drive tires like those found on the Millstadt truck can go flat and not cause a driver to lose control because they are behind the steering tires.

Other tires and axels also take the weight and compensate for the flats, Shigemura said.

Plaintiffs are seeking damages in excess of $50,000 and other relief.

Slay Transportation, Thomas Edwards' employer, intervened in the suit earlier this year.

Millstadt has a claim for contribution pending against Slay.
Slay also admitted to respondent superior liability in the case of findings against Thomas Edwards just prior to trial.

Circuit Judge Ann Callis presides.

The trial will resume Friday due to the Veterans' Day holiday.

Eric and Jon Carlson represent the Edwardses. They were originally
represented by Donald Flack.

Dominique Seymoure and Martin Morrissey represent Collier and Millstadt.

Michael Ward and Joseph Swift represent Slay.

The case is Madison case number 08-L-813.

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