The community in Hobbs, New Mexico, is mourning the unspeakable loss of six University of the Southwest students and the school’s golf coach after a fiery crash in West Texas.
The crash happened on a Tuesday night when the school’s women’s and men’s golf teams were returning from a tournament in Midland, Texas. According to investigators, a 13-year-old boy was driving a pick-up truck when he veered in front of the van carrying the golf team.
Six players and the coach were killed, along with the 13-year-old boy and another person in the pick-up truck. Police said the truck had a spare tire that failed, causing the teen to steer into oncoming traffic.
It’s yet another tragedy that highlights the increased dangers of driving through the Permian Basin. At Stewart + Harmonson, we have years of experience in representing victims of truck and oilfield accidents, as well as helping families of victims in wrongful death lawsuits.
Why is driving the Permian Basin so dangerous?
The 300-mile long stretch of land known as the Permian Basin spans a portion of West Texas and into southeast New Mexico. It’s rich in oil and gas production, accounting for 40 percent of the nation’s oil production and 15 percent of natural gas production in the U.S.
Roughly 2 percent of Texas residents live in the Permian Basin area, but 11 percent of all traffic fatalities in Texas happen in the Basin, according to a 2019 report from the Texas Department of Transportation.
In New Mexico, rural highways are so deadly in the Permian Basin that locals call Highway 285 “Death Highway.”
Why? Because the big vehicles used to produce oil and gas in the basin’s thousands of oil and gas fields are multiplying, and accidents involving large trucks are often more serious. Accidents involving large, commercial vehicles are more complex and require attorneys who have experience in these cases.
What should you do if you’ve been in a trucking accident?
In 2018, there were 49 crashes on a single stretch of Highway 285 in New Mexico, up from 31 crashes a year before. In the United States, 100 people die every day in crashes. That’s the equivalent of a Boeing 737 crash every two days.
The most common causes of truck accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving while tired
In this case, the victims had the added misfortune of having a 13-year-old boy behind the wheel of a truck.
If you’re involved in an accident involving a commercial truck in New Mexico and not seriously injured at the scene, here are some steps you can take to help your case down the road:
- Collect evidence/take pictures at the scene
- Ask witnesses for contact info
- See a doctor regularly to make sure no new injuries pop up as a result of the crash.
- Hire an experienced New Mexico truck accident lawyer