Four Die in Henry County Georgia 15 Passenger Van Rollover Accident


October 18, 2010

Four people were killed and another 15 suffered injuries when a 15 passenger van carrying a church group from Tabernacle of Prayer and Deliverance in Columbus rolled over along Highway 27 in Southwest Georgia in the last few days. The church pastor and an infant were among the four people killed in this tragic fatal 15 passenger van accident. In an all too familiar scenario, the Georgia State Patrol reported that the 15 passenger van suffered a tire blowout which caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle. When the vehicle traveled into the center median, the vehicle rolled several times causing the occupants to be ejected. This tragedy again focuses attention on the dangers posed by 15 passenger vans which are commonly used by organizations like church groups and youth organizations.

At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we have been representing victims of tragic motor vehicle accidents for over 25 years.  We know all too well that this fatal 15 passenger van accident is an example of common risks associated with these dangerous vans. Among the key lessons to take from this tragic accident are the following:

Do Not Exceed 9 Occupants: The accident involving the church group involved an overloaded van with 19 total people on board. The vehicle is already top heavy but becomes more so when overloaded with passengers and cargo. Although the vehicle will accommodate 15 people, studies show that the risk of a rollover accident increases greatly when 10 or more passengers occupy 15 passenger vans. This increased risk occurs because the passenger weight raises the vehicle's center of gravity and causes it to shift rearward. As a result, the van has less resistance to rollover and handles differently from other commonly driven passenger vehicles, making it more difficult to control in an emergency situation.

Avoid Transporting Luggage on Top of the Vehicle: It is a common practice for those who use 15 passenger vans to load the roof of the vehicle with cargo so that there is more space inside the vehicle for passengers. Luggage on the roof of the vehicle can significantly increase the top heavy nature of these vehicles making them far more prone to rollover accidents.

Wear Seat Belts: Many of these vans, which were originally intended as cargo vans, do not have seat belts for passengers. Even if a 15 passenger van is equipped with seat belts, occupants often do not wear seat belts because they assume that a 15 passenger van is equivalent to a "pseudo mini-bus," where seat belts are typically not worn. However, these vans are far more prone to rolling over, which usually causes occupants to be ejected from the vehicle as was the case with the church group accident. Passengers have no structural protection when they are ejected and tend to suffer very severe injures including traumatic brain injuries, paralysis and fatalities.

Be Vigilant Regarding Tire Maintenance: Tire blowouts, like the one in the church group accident, are the leading cause of 15 passenger van rollover accidents. It is imperative that tire tread and pressure be carefully monitored on a regular basis. The use of old tires should also be avoided even if the tires appear to show little wear of the tire tread.

Do Not Rely on Inexperienced Drivers: Although the amount of experience the driver had with 15 passenger vans in the church group accident is unclear, it is common for someone who is a member of the group being transported to drive. These vehicles respond very different than an ordinary passenger vehicle so it is always better to rely on an experienced driver.

To read more about the dangers of 15 passenger vans, see our prior blog post here

This was such a terrible tragedy.  It is important that we pay attention to what went wrong in an effort to prevent such accidents in the future. Despite repeated warnings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the dangers of 15 passenger vans, they are still a popular means of transportation for youth and community groups. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or killed in a 15 passenger van accident, the experienced attorneys at Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, will investigate the accident and seek appropriate compensation for you and your family. Call Montlick & Associates today to see how our Georgia 15 passenger van rollover accident attorneys can help. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away and we will even come to you.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.