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Monday's accident scene in Nayarit. Monday's accident scene in Nayarit.

Tanker truck driver not responsible for crash: witness

Another driver cut in front of the truck, causing the accident that left 14 dead

A witness of the horrific accident in Jala, Nayarit, Monday in which a double tractor-trailer carrying propane gas rolled over and exploded says the accident was not caused by the truck driver, as was reported, but by another driver who cut in front of the tanker.

The explosion killed 14 people, 12 of them instantly while in their vehicles on the Tepic-Guadalajara highway. They were burned beyond recognition.

The body of one victim was found on the highway, presumably ejected from a vehicle, possibly the tanker truck, and later died. Local media reported Tuesday that a 31-year-old woman survived the initial crash but later died at a nearby hospital from burns.

Authorities have not identified the cause of the accident but speculated that brake failure on the part of the tanker truck, which was from Torreón, Coahuila, may have been responsible. They also believe that the truck initially collided with another vehicle on the highway, leading to a chain-reaction accident involving the other two cars.

But Jared Grymaloski, who was driving from Guadalajara at the time of the accident, told Mexico News Daily that he witnessed a car cutting off the tanker truck as it attempted to leave an off-ramp that turned out to be closed. When the car, a small white SUV, tried to re-enter the highway, the tanker truck was unable to stop in time, he said.

Said Grymalowski of the tanker truck driver, “He was just minding his own business.”

According to media reports, the off-ramp to Jala was closed at the time of the accident due to construction.

Just before the accident, Grymaloski said, he and his wife had been traveling behind the SUV and another vehicle. Both had been traveling at about the same speed with them for about 40 kilometers.

Just before the Jala exit the SUV had pulled ahead of the tanker and exited on the off-ramp. But realizing that the ramp was closed the driver tried to re-enter the freeway, Grymaloski said.

“The tanker driver saw what the white SUV was doing and locked his brakes up — a lot of smoke — and tried to swerve to the left but clipped the white SUV and then caught the red car that was trying to cut in front of the truck and literally drove over the top of the right front hood, which flipped the truck onto its passenger-door side,” Grymalowski said.

The tanker truck’s two trailers then began to jackknife and “wrapped around the red car and then burst into flames.”

“We had slowed right down, as we thought we might help the injured,” he added, “and then the fire started toward us; we got out of there pretty fast.”

Mexico News Daily

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