Archive for Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Man who was in coma following K-10 accident has died

November 29, 2011

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A 45-year-old Missouri man died Monday after he was injured in January in a crash on Kansas Highway 10 near De Soto, according to a Kansas City, Kan., funeral home.

Barry L. Clemons, of Raytown, was injured Jan. 6 when his westbound pickup was struck by a trailer that had come loose from an eastbound vehicle near Lexington Avenue.

The Kansas Highway Patrol the day after the accident warned drivers to make sure trailers were secured to their vehicles, and troopers had said they expected to ticket the driver of the eastbound pickup, Jerold D. Evans, of Lawrence, for failing to secure a load.

Relatives said Clemons had been in a coma since the accident. Services are scheduled for noon Thursday at Holmeswood Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo. According to news reports, Clemons was a longtime minister who conducted weddings in the Kansas City area.

Kansas University student Briana Arensberg in October 2010 suffered an arm injury on K-10 near Eudora when another trailer broke loose from an eastbound pickup truck and struck her westbound car. Kansas Department of Transportation leaders earlier this month approved a plan for next summer to place cable median barriers along two two-mile stretches of K-10 near Eudora and the junction with Kansas Highway 7 in Johnson County.

The project came after a public outcry for more safety measures from cross-median crashes on K-10, including an April double-fatality crash near Eudora that killed 5-year-old Cainan Shutt.

Comments

duster 3 years, 4 months ago

Please go to www.dangeroustrailers.org and take note of all the lives lost by "Loose Runaway Trailers!!!!!!! Why did this person have to suffer like this! We know how to prevent the next needless loss of a life by out of control utility trailers.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 4 months ago

1) When I was young, I used to work with a lot with my father, who did a lot of custom farm work. It involved towing a lot of very heavy machinery hundreds of miles every summer. By "very heavy machinery", I mean a (now obsolete) hay bale stacker with a tractor loaded onto it instead of a load of hay, en route to the next field where work was waiting to be done.

A hay bale stacker with a tractor loaded onto it is very heavy, but I don't know exactly how heavy. But the stacker was at least a ton and a half, probably more, and although we were often using a very small tractor, it had to be over a ton and a half itself. So, it had to be at least three tons, 6,000 pounds, and most likely, much more than that.

Every time, the first thing done was to use the jack and lift the machine to be towed high enough to clear the towing ball. Then, the towing truck was backed up underneath the towing hitch. That's actually rather difficult to do with a truck when you can't see the towing hitch, usually that was a two man operation. Then, the machine to be towed was lowered onto the hitch. .

Then it was time to secure the towing ball. I don't how to describe how that is done, and I think there are a couple different methods that are employed. Anyway, it was done so that if the machine were to be lifted, it would also lift the truck towing it.

The next step was to connect the chain, which appeared to have no use at all. It was a heavy duty steel chain that was looped around the frame of the truck, and then also looped around the frame of the machine being towed.

Then, it was time to plug in the plug so that the lights on the trailer would work. Then, we were ready to go.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 4 months ago

2) One time I asked my father what that chain that appeared to have no use was for. He explained that if somehow the hitch came undone on the road, then the trailer would still be attached to the truck. And besides that, it was against the law to not have it attached like that. But, that never did happen, not even once, ever.

Once something did go wrong, though. One of the tires on the machine being towed suddenly blew out. (Actually, I think that happened more than once.)

The truck shifted a bit side to side on the highway at over 60 miles per hour, being forced to do so by the very heavy machinery being towed that had a blown out tire. But, we didn't swerve more than a foot or so in either direction. No big deal really, but we did have to change the tire right then and there.

And, that safety chain that appeared to have to use at all never had any use at all, even though it was securely attached every time. The hitch never came loose, not even once.

So, I tend to believe that if every once in a while anyone towing would be pulled over to make sure they were following the letter of the law regarding the secure attachment of the hitch, and the use of a safety chain, there wouldn't be so many tragedies like this.

Having grown up towing heavy machinery and done so much of it myself, I really don't understand how this accident happened in the first place. It's the law that the machine you are towing be securely attached. And, it's also the law that there be a safety chain, in case the very unlikely event of a mechanical failure occurs, and then it is necessary for the safety chain to keep the trailer securely affixed to the truck.

(But that would be rather exciting event, because there certainly would be surprising results once the trailer hitch hit the highway.)

Many years of towing hundreds of miles every summer, adding up to many thousands of miles of towing, resulted in the safety chain never, ever being necessary, although it was always attached, just in case.

The only possible explanation for an accident like this is that the law regarding how securely trailers are to be affixed to the towing vehicle is not being enforced. Or, the people that are towing simply don't know what they're doing.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 4 months ago

I wonder if the companies that rent trailers for towing always make sure that the people using them clearly understand how the trailer is to be safely attached.

If an inexperienced person rents a trailer and it is not made very clear to him how to do it safely, the rental company surely bears most, if not all, of the responsibility for the accident.

It's easy for me to talk about it, because I've done it so much. But many people simply don't have that experience.

How can a person possibly know how to do something safely if it has not been carefully explained to him?

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 4 months ago

Some states do have such a law, I've seen signs notifying drivers of that when traveling. But I think it was 60 miles per hour if you're towing.

imastinker 3 years, 4 months ago

I've seen a lot of improperly loaded and connected trailers running around. I'd like law enforcement to be more aware of the laws and ticket people who have blatant violations of laws, like no safety chains attached.

There are other things they could do too, like a brochure that everyone that renews a trailer tag receives about the law and proper hitching procedure.

That said, this stuff still happens. I lost a trailer once. It was connected to the lawnmower and in the yard. I didn't realize I even had a 1 7/8" ball around but I did. I'm lucky I put it on the lawnmower instead of a vehicle or it might have been worse. Of course I didn't have safety chains connected to the mower and I would have on the truck.

I recall as a kid my dad had our camper connected to the car and drove off. We made it out on the road before it fell off. It turns out that he didn't have the hitch slid in all the way and the pin went behind the hitch rather than through the hole. The chains were connected to the hitch too, not the tow vehicle. We all got lucky that day.

Accidents do happen, but there's more of them than there needs to be.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 4 months ago

1) In all my years of driving a tractor and a couple small trucks towing very heavy machinery, I had only one terrifying event.

I was driving an articulated tractor, that is, a tractor that hinges in the middle to steer, instead of simply turning the front wheels, which are the same size as the ones in the back. Articulated tractors are wonderful for pulling extremely heavy loads, but present some problems that are a bit different than regular tractors. They are also very much bigger than regular tractors.

I was using the undercutter on one of our fields. Undercutters are well known for the potential for horrifying accidents that I don't even want to think about. The one I was using was 25 to 30 feet wide, and the articulated tractor could pull it pretty fast. It took about 4 hours or less to plow 80 acres.

After finishing the 80 acre field, which we always did first because it was so small, I headed for the dirt road to go to the next field. It was a dirt road with absolutely no traffic at all. I was in just a bit of a hurry, and didn't see the need to use the hydraulic lifts to hoist up the sides of the undercutter into the air, so as to not be so wide.

If I drove the tractor right down the center of the road, I had about a foot clearance on each side, so why waste the time to hoist up the ends to drive the tractor only one fourth of a mile?

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 4 months ago

2) I was driving the tractor right in the center of the road, going perhaps 20 or 25 mph, which is incredibly fast for an articulated tractor. That's really fast, because they stop so slowly because they weigh a few tons, and so does the implement you are towing. Plus, since that type of steering mechanism is powered by hydraulics that hinge the middle of the tractor, you can turn only very slowly.

Everything was going fine, and I was whizzing right along, moving very fast considering what I was driving, when suddenly all hell broke loose!

Suddenly the tractor was headed for the ditch! I turned the steering wheel as fast as I could, and the hydraulics groaned as they heaved the hinge of the massive tractor. Then, I was headed for the other ditch!

Back and forth it went, the hydraulics were groaning as they heaved the hinge in the middle of the tractor back and forth, and all I could think about was that I needed to keep my eyes right on the road ahead, do my very best to steer the tractor straight down it, and hope that the hydraulics could keep up with my frantic spinning of the steering wheel.

And, I could NOT use the brakes, because I would have been in the ditch for sure if I did that. Anyone that has ever driven a tractor much understands why, it's because the brakes are separate for the right and left, and it is not possible to apply them equally. Plus, the implement behind weighs a couple tons at least, and there's no brakes at all on it.

Finally it all slowed down, with me and everything still on the dirt road, and no one ever saw what happened. I slowly drove to the next field, now only one eighth of a mile away, parked the tractor, and went walking back to see what in the world had happened, shaking all the way. I had never in my life totally lost control of a tractor! And I'd been driving them since I was 12!

I followed my tracks, and it didn't take long to discover what had happened. A stone, no more than eight inches in diameter, was lying on the side of the road. The right side wheel of the undercutter had collided with it, and then the undercutter began a massive swing to the right, and almost pulled the tractor off the road.

And that's what started it all, a rock only eight inches big.

Ever after that, I always lifted the wings of the undercutter before pulling onto a dirt road, and I have always been so very aware that it's the little things that cause big things to happen.

It's always the little things that cause very big problems, the tiny little things that don't look like they matter at all.

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