A Miami-Dade man without a valid driver’s license was arrested in connection with a serious fuel tanker truck accident, the Palm Beach Post reported June 23. Roberto Antonio Valasquez was allegedly driving a station wagon that broke down on Interstate 95 at around 1 a.m. Monday. He and an unnamed passenger ran from the vehicle when they saw the fuel tanker truck barreling toward them. The subsequent crash caused an explosion that closed the north lanes of the interstate for five hours, severely damaging the road and killing one of the trucker’s two dogs. Fortunately, no one else was hurt, although the trucker, Jimmy Hill, suffered minor burns to his arm.
Valasquez is charged with driving without a license and leaving the scene of an accident. He told investigators that he was driving because the passenger, who has a valid license, was tired. Their station wagon died in the roadway, he said, and he couldn’t get it to start. It’s unclear whether they left immediately, but the stopped station wagon caused problems for Hill, who told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he couldn’t stop his truck in time to avoid it. Hill’s full tanker of gasoline collided with the car, and he and one of his spaniels managed to escape before the explosion. Authorities later found the body of the other dog, who was thrown from the truck.
As a South Florida resident and a Plantation semi truck accident lawyer, I’m grateful that this happened so early in the morning, when most drivers were safe at home. A fuel tanker truck accident is one of the most serious types of commercial truck crash. In addition to the large the weight and size that makes any truck accident dangerous for people in smaller vehicles, fuel tankers have a toxic and highly flammable load. If the crash ruptures the tank and exposes the fuel to flame -- highly likely in a crash -- the result can be an explosion that could kill or catastrophically injure everyone nearby. If there’s no explosion, fuel spillage could still pose a severe environmental and fire hazard.
Authorities are not yet laying blame on anyone for causing the accident, but from the criminal charges so far, it seems likely that they don’t blame Hill. While irresponsible truckers in charge of two-ton semi trucks are a serious threat, irresponsible drivers in cars, trucks and SUVs can and often do cause severe trucking accidents. Thanks to the trucks’ size, this can affect multiple innocent bystanders. Victims of these trucking accidents still have the right to file a Sunrise tractor-trailer accident lawsuit -- but against the careless driver. If circumstances are appropriate -- for example, if a load was not secured properly -- they may sue the trucker or trucking company in addition to the careless driver. Tracing back who caused what part of an accident is complicated, which is why victims should always talk to a Davie trucking accident attorney as early as possible in the case.