As reported on ABC News, an accident on August 1st fatally injured a civilian employee of the New York City Police Department on a local freeway when a tire flew off of a truck and smashed into the victim’s car.
The victim, Robert Martinez, 64 years of age, worked in building maintenance at the New York Police Department headquarters in Manhattan. The accident occurred when Martinez was driving east in a 2003 Chevy Tracker on the Gowanus Expressway in Brooklyn when a 2009 Mack garbage truck traveling in the opposite direction had a rear tire suddenly become unhinged. The tire flew over the center median and traveled through the windshield of Martinez’s vehicle.
Martinez was found unconscious and unresponsive, suffering from severe head trauma. He was rushed to New York University Langone Hospital in Brooklyn, where he was eventually pronounced dead.
The 46-year old driver and 27-year old passenger of the garbage truck remained at the scene and cooperated with authorities, according to local police. The accident is still under investigation and no charges have been filed at this time.
According to Jason Chalik, partner at Chalik and Chalik, “Thousands of people sustain injuries in accidents involving defective tires each year.”
Tire defects can come in one of three forms: manufacturing error, dangerous design, or marketing mistakes. A manufacturing error can make a tire that would be safe dangerous for use due to issues on the assembly line. Tires that have inherently unsafe designs may shred more easily when used, or blow out in such a way that threatens the stability of the vehicle. Tires with inadequate marketing can lead to consumer misuse and failure to replace the tire when necessary. All these defects can be equally as dangerous to consumers.
About a month ago, another New York driver was killed when a tractor-trailer lost a tire on a highway in Long Island. In that accident, the vehicle was going eastbound on the Sunrise Highway in West Babylon when a tire came off and flew into the westbound lanes, colliding with the front passenger side window of a car.
The driver of the car then lost control and hit the center median of the highway. There was one fatality from the accident.
However, the rogue tire continued on, hitting a second vehicle, a Chevy SUV with two people inside. Those individuals survived with minor injuries. The driver, Mary Di-Franco-Garone, stated that she saw the tire come from the other side of the highway, bounce, hit the driver of the car, witness the car hit the center median, then the tire hit her vehicle. She stated, “We’re very lucky. That poor person, whoever they are. They were just at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Investigations are ongoing as to the origination of the tire, and there has been speculation as to whether one or two tires were involved.