March 1, 2012—Cottonwood, CA—A local firefighter was killed Wednesday when a skidding truck hit him as he was helping remove wreckage from an earlier accident. Another bystander and a California Highway Patrol officer were also injured in the accident.
35-year-old Captain Mark Ratledge of the Cottonwood Fire Protect District, a local volunteer firefighting company, was assisting the cleanup of a wreck along the side of Interstate Five near Cottonwood when a pickup truck slid out of control due to hail on the highway. Ratledge was the first Cottonwood firefighter to be killed in the line of duty.
The CHP officer and bystander who were also injured in the accident are expected to make a full recovery.
I want to extend my heartfelt sympathy to the City of Cottonwood, Mr. Ratledge’s family, and his fellow firefighters, and to wish the other two victims a speedy recovery.
The Bisnar and Chase car accident lawyers in California report a large number of accidents that result from dangerous roadways. Ice in the form of hail, black ice, and other frozen surfaces can cause terrible accidents because it is so difficult for drivers to maneuver on these surfaces. Lack of traction causes skidding, as happened in this accident, and hail can also be responsible for broken windshields which lead to lack of visibility.
Nearly 500 car accident deaths each year are directly attributable to icy road conditions. Although some areas receive little "true" ice in the winter, almost anywhere in the country can be hit with hail. Furthermore, while the times you are at risk for ice are fairly predictable, in many areas hail can hit at almost any time throughout the year.
What Happened In This Accident
Given the fact that there had already been one accident on this particular stretch of highway, it is likely that the road conditions were indeed hazardous. However, that does not relieve the driver from the responsibility of handling his or her vehicle, especially if emergency vehicles are present on the roadside.
As a driver, you always have a responsibility to maintain control of your vehicle at all times. It is possible that this accident was due to driving too fast for conditions, although there may also have been other contributing factors.
The driver of the pickup truck will likely be liable for all damages, including Mr. Ratledge’s wrongful death and the police officer’s and bystander’s injuries. It is possible that liability could attach to another driver if that person did something which precipitated the accident, as well. Contact a Bisnar and Chase personal injury lawyer in California today to receive a free consultation from experienced legal professionals.
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