A head-on collision between a big rig belonging to Fletes Mexico and a pickup truck Saturday night in the municipality of Matamoros Coahuila has claimed the lives of 16 people, including 10 women, two infants, a five year old girl and three men.
The pickup truck, with 12 in the bed and 4 in the cab was heading westbound on the Matamoros-Maztlan “free road” to attend a “quincinera”, a traditional party for a girl who had turned 15 when it crossed the center line and hit the Freightliner Colombia head on. Investigators at the scene said the driver of the pickup had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and person.
The driver of the big rig, who was identified as Jose Francisco Calderon Esparza, identified by his company identification badge, has not been located yet.*
The victims were taken to University Hospital in Torreon Coahuila for the required autopsies before being released to a local funeral home in their hometown of Petronilas.
State, Federal and Municipal authorities continue the investigation this morning and results of the investigation will be turned over to prosecutors for further action if warranted.
THE REST OF THE STORY
Sunday, the Associated Press reported this story as being the fault of the trucker. As usual, their reporting, from wire sources was short on facts and long on speculation.
The sources for our reporting come from more than 1/2 dozen Mexican news sources who were actually on the scene of the accident and interviewed witnesses and rescue personnel.
Witnesses to the accident report that the driver of the pickup truck crossed the center line and collided with the 18 wheeler. AP and a couple of other websites, blogs are reporting the opposite. That the 18 wheeler is the responsible party. However, the photos of the scene pretty much spell out what happened.
Mexican news agencies are reporting the driver of the big rig fled the scene before the police arrived. While this is problematic, for me and everyone else, it’s not unusual. In Mexico, accidents are treated as a criminal matter, unlike in the US where the majority of accidents are a civil matter. In an incident where there is injury or death or extreme property damage, the party thought to be responsible is imprisoned until the investigation is complete. In Mexico, “imprisoned” does not mean detention in a county jail, but in a CERESO or regular prison. Wrong as it is, one can see why this happens and why other truckers have no problem helping their fellow drivers get away from a scene. Stupid? Yes, considering it only takes a phone call to the trucking company to identify the driver, or in this case, finding his company ID card.
Fletes Mexico, has an excellent safety rating in the United States, providing that THIS is the correct company. They are not a part of the Cross Border Pilot Program with Mexico.
And speaking of the Cross Border Pilot Program. It is unfortunate and regrettable that some will use this tragic accident to pursue their agenda of keeping Mexican trucks off US roadways, as they did in 2007 when a similar incident occurred involving a drunk four wheeler and a big rig in Monclova Coahuila. Accidents happen, something we can attest to every day when we turn on the Dave Nemo Infomercial and usually hear about a big rig accident.
As far as the driver of this rig is concerned, his career is over. Leaving the scene of the accident, regardless of whether the investigation determines he was not responsible for the accident is a prosecutable offense, which at the least, will cost him a multi year license suspension and afterward, he’ll be untouchable by Mexican motor carriers.
We’ll keep you informed as the investigation goes forward.
35 years in the trucking business and living in Mexico for the past 15 years, make me uniquely qualified to offer my insight and opinion into the Mexican trucking industry and other border issues. A contributor to SiriuxXM Road Dog Channel 106 and to the award winning Lockridge Report, Mexico Trucker Online continues to publish the unvarnished truth about the subjects we cover.