Thursday, November 1, 2007



A 47-year-old Monroe man was killed after an empty trailer came detached and struck the car he was driving in the town of Mount Pleasant on Saturday.

William C. Ladwig, 46, Monroe, was driving a truck that was pulling an empty cattle chute trailer southbound on Highway 69 when the trailer detached, crossed into the northbound lane and struck the Monroe man's car, according to Green County Sheriff's Department.

Four other people in the car were taken to Monroe Clinic Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, deputies said.

A passing motorist notified the sheriff's department of the crash around 8:10 p.m.

Manatee school bus crashes with loose trailer, nobody hurt

Manatee school bus crashes with loose trailer, nobody hurt.

Oct. 31--BRADENTON -- A loose trailer hauling rebars and other construction materials slammed headon into a school bus today, fire officials said.

The trailer had broken loose from a westbound truck along the 6000 block of 53rd Avenue West, according to a Cedar Hammock Fire Rescue news release. The bus, heading east on 53rd Avenue, collided with the trailer at about 7:15 a.m. Passengers on the bus, including five special-needs students, a bus driver and a monitor, were buckled in and were not hurt, the release stated. The impact from the crash knocked off the bus' front hood and destroyed the trailer, said David Quarderer, spokesman for Cedar Hammock. Construction materials -- wooden planks and metal rods -- littered the side of the eastbound lane.

Copyright (c) 2006, The Bradenton Herald, Fla.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business


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Driver Faulted in Crash on Span: Trailer Came Loose, but No Charges Are Planned in Fatal Bay Bridge Accident

Driver Faulted in Crash on Span: Trailer Came Loose, but No Charges Are Planned in Fatal Bay Bridge Accident

Oct. 25--The driver of a Lincoln Navigator whose trailer came loose on the Bay Bridge in May was "solely at fault" for the deadly multivehicle crash that resulted, according to a police investigation, but prosecutors have decided that they have no grounds for charging him with any traffic offenses.

Three Eastern Shore men died in the seven-vehicle collision May 10, which closed the westbound span of the bridge well into the night and backed up traffic for miles.

A report released yesterday by the Maryland Transportation Authority Police said the driver of the Navigator, Stephen A. Burt of Rockville, was responsible for the deadly chain of events.

It concluded that there was no evidence that Burt had used a safety hitch pin to secure the single-axle trailer to his vehicle. Without that pin to hold the latch lever in place, the trailer came loose as it bounced on the westbound span of the bridge, according to the report.

Investigators also determined that the chains used to pull the trailer were too long, allowing the front of the trailer to hit the ground.

Nevertheless, the Anne Arundel County state's attorney's office concluded that "no current regulations exist" that would justify charges in the case.

"This appears to be a tragic accident, as it is unlikely that a reasonable person would have anticipated that the trailer would break loose," Deputy State's Attorney William D. Roessler wrote in an Oct. 2 letter to Marcus Brown, chief of the Transportation Authority Police. "Therefore, there is insufficient evidence to support any traffic charges in this case, including negligent driving."

Cpl. Jonathan Green, spokesman for the Transportation Authority Police, explained that federal and state laws address the proper securing of full-size trailers, but not small, noncommercial trailers such as the one-axle unit that came loose.

Reached by phone at home yesterday, Burt, 45, said, "I'm not interested in talking to a reporter. Thank you."

The state's attorney's decision brought an angry response from a woman whose son and husband died in the crash and who said charges should have been filed.

"My whole life has changed. I'm here alone. I don't have any more laughter and smiles on my face," said Missy Orff. Neither the police nor the Anne Arundel state's attorney's office had informed her that charges would not be brought, she said, adding that she learned of the decision yesterday from television news reports.

Kristin Riggin, a spokeswoman for State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, said prosecutors had had no previous contact with the families and thought the police would notify victims' survivors.

"It's very upsetting to learn that Mrs. Orff would find out from the media about this situation," Riggin said. She said the state's attorney's office would call survivors to explain its decision.

Green, the police spokesman, said that in many cases, the department does contact the families about decisions on charges. "Unfortunately, anticipated litigation prevented us from doing so in this case," he said.

Debbie Ingle, the widow of the third victim, could not be reached for comment.

Burt apparently will not face traffic charges, but the results of the investigation could play a part in any civil actions that result from the crash.

The police report concluded that none of the other drivers involved in the crash contributed to the accident, which occurred while the westbound span was carrying two-way traffic to relieve eastbound congestion.

Jonathan R. Orff and Randall R. Orff of Millington in Kent County were killed when their eastbound red Ford pickup truck swerved to avoid the trailer, rolled over and was struck by several westbound vehicles. Jonathan Orff, 29, the driver, and Randall Orff, 47, his father, were returning from work to their Eastern Shore home. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

James Hewitt Ingle, 44, of Preston in Caroline County was killed when his westbound Honda Civic hit the Orffs' car in the middle lane. His car's roof was crushed, and the car was hit by a flatbed truck in the right lane. He also died at the scene.

Photos released with the accident report showed the Orffs' pickup truck and Ingle's Civic reduced to twisted heaps of metal after they came to rest against the bridge's guardrails.

The report does not contradict previous accounts of the crash but adds details about the sequence of events after the trailer came loose. It also includes transcripts of interviews with two surviving drivers, Burt and Miguel A. Heredia of Edgewater.

Heredia, a van driver who said he had been watching the Navigator's trailer because he was interested in acquiring one, said he saw the trailer bouncing before it came loose. He said the trailer was struck by the Orffs' pickup truck, which he saw roll over, before the trailer careened into the right lane and struck his van.

According to investigators, after Ingle's vehicle struck the Orffs' truck, three other westbound vehicles -- including a flatbed truck and a tractor-trailer hauling a load of animal fat -- became involved. The drivers of two of those vehicles were hospitalized.

The report does not address whether two-way operations on the three-lane westbound bridge -- a common practice during peak evening traffic -- might have contributed to the collision. Shortly after the crash, Brown said two-way traffic was not a factor, and his spokesman held to that position yesterday.

"At this point, there's no evidence two-way was a factor," Green said. "That's the way we look at it."

Paul Bekman, Missy Orff's Baltimore-based attorney, said he is "absolutely" looking at the issue of two-way operations as a potential basis for legal action against the Maryland Transportation Authority.

Riggin, the state's attorney's spokeswoman, said she expects Maryland prosecutors to study whether there is a need to "better define" state laws on trailer hitches.

"Certainly, the laws that govern traffic safety when it comes to matters such as this will be looked at and considered for possible legislation before the General Assembly," she said.


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Copyright (c) 2007, The Baltimore Sun

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Just after the truck passed me the trailer came unhitched and took off running wild. We were go

Don't run away from trailer safety.(Auto Monday)(Auto aftermarket)

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
August 21, 2006
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Byline: Bob Kocher

A safe trip when pulling a trailer should always be first and foremost. I will never forget the time I was driving north on the West Virginia Turnpike when a pickup truck passed me pulling a trailer with a NASCAR display car. Just after the truck passed me the trailer came unhitched and took off running wild. We were going up a steep grade and by the luck of the draw, the trailer ran into a bank and stopped. Of course I now watch with care when all trailers approach me when I am driving.

A safety feature for trailers that might come loose from their towing vehicle is what is known as trailer breakaway systems. They are becoming mandatory in more and more states each year. The breakaway system is simple. If a trailer gets loose, the breakaway system applies the trailer brakes. Many but not all trailers use a breakaway system. You should check the law in your state pertaining to these systems. I believe Illinois requires breakaway kits for trailers exceeding 5,000 pounds.

In response to the growing number of states requiring a breakaway system, trailer hitch and towing hardware company Valley Industries offers trailer breakaway kits that contain all the components needed to automatically apply power to the trailer brakes in the event the trailer becomes separated from the tow vehicle.

"Drivers should understand the heavy fines they subject themselves to when towing without a breakaway system," said Bryan Fletcher, president, Valley Industries. "The cost of one citation can far exceed the purchase price of a kit. More importantly, a breakaway system ensures the safety of other motorists, your trailer and its contents."

Valley's standard kit (@#53700) provides a complete system to power electric trailer brakes should a breakaway occur. It includes a lockable polyethylene battery box, rechargeable 4.5 amp/hr. sealed lead acid battery, pulse preventer, breakaway switch and batter charger/tender.

The new deluxe trailer breakaway kit includes the same components but features a stronger battery and charging system designed to monitor the battery voltage and reduce its output when fully charged - thus increasing overall life.

Kit components can be purchased individually. Professional installation is highly recommended.

Valley towing equipment can be purchased at leading automotive parts and retail stores including Blain's Farm & Fleet, Napa Auto, and Tractor Supply Company locations. To find a Valley dealer in your area, visit the company online at and select the "Where to Buy" link (or call 800-344-3112).

Valley Industries has been manufacturing quality towing products since 1947. To ensure customer satisfaction and a safe towing experience, Valley develops, designs, and tests its products in a state-of-the-art R&D facility. Valley products are manufactured to exceed federal and state government towing standards.

Motorists Can Order Free Guide Online

A new Car Care Guide for motorists turns technical automotive jargon into easy-to-understand everyday language, taking the mystery out of vehicle maintenance and repair. The free guide, published by the Car Care Council, can be ordered on the council's Web site at

The guide, which fits easily in a glove box, explains the nine most common preventative maintenance procedures and repairs that need to be performed to keep cars operating safely and reliably while maintaining their long-term value. It also includes a list of questions to ask when these maintenance or repair procedures are being done on a car.

To further familiarize motorists with their vehicles, the guide has clear, concise descriptions of 12 major vehicle systems and parts. A Car Care Checklist reminds motorists what vehicle systems need to be maintained and when service or repair should be performed.

"The first step toward a safe and dependable vehicle is to be car care aware - to understand your vehicle, what kind of care it needs, when it needs it and why," said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. "The easy-to-follow guide provides this information, cutting through the technical language and terms that often confuse or prevent motorists from really taking good care of their vehicles."

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the "Be Car Care Aware" consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For more information, visit

With gas prices at record levels, there is no better time for motorists to make sure their vehicles are running efficiently in order to save at the pump. The new Car Care Guide explains the nine most common preventative maintenance procedures and repairs that need to be performed to keep cars operating safely and reliably, while maintaining their long-term value. It also includes a list of questions to ask when maintenance or repair procedures are being performed on a car.

The Car Care Council's "Be Car Care Aware" education campaign is an ongoing campaign to build awareness and knowledge to prepare consumers to make sensible decisions about their vehicles. The Council has joined forces with NASCAR to launch the "Be an Angel, Maintain Your Car and Save Some Gas" public service announcement.

- Bob Kocher is president of the Chicago-based Midwest Automotive Media Association. Questions may be e-mailed to