Trucker exonerated in 2003 accident in Montana

| 6/28/2005

The driver of a truck that was involved in a 2003 crash in Montana that killed three teenagers and their driver’s education teacher has been exonerated.

In a Highway Accident Brief released last month, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the driver and his truck were not at fault in the crash. The wreck was instead caused by the inexperience of the 14-year-old driver of the driver’s education car, who lost control on slushy roadways.

Both the truck driver and the teen tested negative for alcohol and illicit drugs, the report said.

The accident occurred on Jan. 23, 2003, when the car – a 1997 Oldsmobile Achieva – caught a patch of accumulated slush on Amsterdam Road near Belgrade, MT. According to the report, the vehicle, which was estimated to have been traveling 35 to 45 mph, began to fishtail and veered into the truck’s lane.

The truck driver said he steered to the left to avoid the collision, but struck the vehicle on its right side. The collision caused the Oldsmobile to spin out of control and slide down the south side of the roadway.

The coroner determined that all four passengers in the car were killed by blunt force trauma injuries and chest wounds. The accident pushed in the right side of the car 24 inches into the passenger area.