According to news reports of the Titusville crash, a woman, her five daughters, her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s nephews – 11 people total – were piled into a Dodge Durango. The 34-year-old mother was behind the wheel. Suddenly, tire tread separation caused her to lose control of the vehicle on I-95 around 6:30 p.m. on Memorial Day.
The sport utility vehicle began to whip violently from side-to-side before it rolled over numerous times. One witness described the vehicle as launching some 25 to 30 feet in the air, before landing on a roof and spinning. Every single person inside the vehicle was ejected, including a toddler, who incredibly survived without major injuries, despite being thrown some 30 feet over a barrier wall. However, four of the five sisters did not live.
The girls, ages 15, 14, 13 and 10, all perished. Three were pronounced dead at the scene and a fourth died later at the hospital. The 9-year-old sister survived. One had dreams of becoming a pediatrician. Another a cosmetologist. They were each remembered for their “beautiful spirits.”
The girls’ grandmother recalled receiving that awful call from her hysterical daughter, sobbing that she needed her mother because her girls were gone. The grandmother at first thought – even prayed – that it was a terrible dream.
Witnesses recall the woman and her boyfriend stumbling in the wreckage, trying desperately to locate each child. It took them time to find the toddler, given how far he’d been thrown.
Authorities say the vehicle was only designed to carry eight passengers. They later determined it was the left rear tire tread that separated.
Coincidentally, the crash occurred during National Tire Safety Week. The week is designed to raise awareness of tire tread safety ahead of long-distance summer road trips.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports improperly-inflated tires play a role in nearly 40 percent of all tire-related car accidents. That’s why they recommend checking each tire’s air pressure at least once a month. Most gas stations have air stations in which to fill up your tires.
With regard to tire tread, the main purpose of it is to separate the tire from water underneath so that vehicles don’t hydroplane. It’s imperative that drivers and vehicle owners check tires regularly for excessive or uneven wear. Safety experts recommend the “coin test.” That involves putting a quarter upside in the tire groove. If you can see all of Washington’s head, then it’s time to start shopping for new tires.You can do the same test with a penny.
While you’re checking the tire tread, give the entire tire a once-over. That means looking out for any bulges, cracks or cuts on the tire. Tires should be balanced periodically. Take a look at your vehicle manual to see if there are any specific recommendations for your exact vehicle. That manual should also contain information about exactly how much your tires should be inflated.
Authorities say the girls’ mother is not expected to face any charges, though she may receive a few traffic citations.That is nothing compared to the burden of grief she will likely carry with her the rest of her days.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
Four Leesburg sisters killed in Brevard crash, May 31, 2016, By Ryan Gillespie, Orlando Sentinel
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