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Semi Collision on Indiana Toll Road Leaves Driver Dead

Jason Reese

The Indiana Toll Road was closed for hours on Monday afternoon due to a fatal collision involving three semis. All three trucks were traveling east when the accident occurred near mile marker 112, killing 53-year-old Daniel Zeiger of Bremen.

Indiana State Police believe one semi driver, 21-year-old Austin Edward Larson of Flint, had pulled over to the shoulder to address some kind of problem with the truck. A tractor-tanker driven by Daniel Zeiger hit Larson’s truck and then struck a third semi driven by Winston Sample, Jr. Larson was uninjured, and Sample was treated for minor injuries before being released from the hospital.

Tragically, the multiple collisions ignited a fire on Zeiger’s semi, which was transporting gasoline. He could not escape the blaze and was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.

Semis Carrying Hazardous Materials Raise the Risk for Everyone

The sheer size of semi trucks creates deadly accident scenarios whenever a semi collision occurs; however, the risk to drivers, passengers, and communities is significantly higher when the semi truck is carrying a hazardous material. Substances classified as hazardous include those that are toxic, combustible, unstable, corrosive, explosive, or radioactive and those which may cause cancer, release dangerous dust or fumes, or otherwise cause health hazards. Trucks (and their drivers) carrying such hazardous materials pose greater risks to public safety, and therefore are held to different standards and more regulations than other kinds of semi trucks.

As an alert to all those who may be affected, trucks carrying hazardous materials are required to have clearly visible placards indicating their HAZMAT status. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 4% of semis involved in fatal accidents were carrying hazardous materials that required a placard while 2% of trucks involved in non-fatal accidents had a hazardous materials placard. 15% of these accidents resulted in the hazardous materials being released in one way or another, with flammable liquids such as gas accounting for more than half of all accident-related HAZMAT releases.

Causes of Hazardous Material Accidents Are Familiar

Roadway accidents involving hazardous materials can be more severe and injure more people, largely due to the capacity of such materials to spread quickly and either ignite, explode, or cause serious health problems. That said, the causes of semi accidents involving hazardous materials are very much the same as other kinds of semi or tractor-trailer accidents: improperly loaded or overloaded trucks, negligence of required maintenance, drowsy or distracted driving, and driving under the influence. As with any other kind of traffic accident, many HAZMAT truck accidents are preventable.

Whether you have been injured by a HAZMAT semi collision in an immediate way, such as experiencing serious 2nd and 3rd degree burns, or the accident exposed you to toxic materials expected to impact your health years down the road, the attorneys at Wagner Reese can help. Call our truck accident attorneys today for a free consultation and to find out how to protect your legal rights: (888) 204-8440.


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