September 11, 1996
POLICE: CAR TRAILER IMPROPERLY ATTACHED
IT BROKE LOOSE FROM RENTAL TRUCK, KILLED WOMAN IN CAR
A car trailer that crashed into a young woman's car, killing her, after it broke loose from a rental truck last month on Chippenham Parkway was improperly attached, police have concluded.
Samantha A. Green, 18, of 4032 Chippendale Road, was killed Aug. 27 when the 2,000-pound trailer crossed the median and slammed head-on into her 1992 Geo Prizm.
The trailer was being pulled behind a Ryder rental truck driven by Michael M. Howard, 31, of the 1000 block of Porters Mill Lane in Midlothian.
Chesterfield police said Howard wasn't at fault.
An employee of Ryder Truck Rental and Leasing at 2300 Station Road was responsible for securing the trailer to the truck, police said.
"After speaking with witnesses and others involved, it was determined that the cause of the accident was the trailer being improperly secured to the truck," said Chesterfield police Sgt. Curtis Tanner.
"If it was properly secured -- if the safety chains and the coupler were attached properly -- it would not have come loose," he added. "Witnesses say the chains were attached, but obviously if they were attached properly it would not have broken loose."
A supervisor where the trailer was rented referred questions to a district safety officer, who couldn't be reached last night for comment.
Tanner said police were unable to determine precisely what happened.
"There are like three different ways that it could have not been properly secured," he said. "Exactly which one of the three, we don't know."
In addition to the trailer being improperly secured, a device designed to stop the trailer should it break free apparently wasn't activated, Lt. Cliff Brady said.
"The law requires all trailers of a certain weight in Virginia to have a break-away device," Brady explained. "And if the trailer breaks away, it triggers the brake system and locks up the brakes. It was not activated."
Brady said crash team officers arrived at their conclusions after consulting with an expert.
"We just feel that the whole thing wasn't hooked up properly," Brady said. "All the built-in safety features that were on it didn't work."
Howard was heading north on Chippenham when the trailer he was towing broke free. The 17-foot trailer veered to the left, crossed into the median and struck a guardrail, sending it airborne.
It crashed through the left front of Green's car as she was driving south on Chippenham near the Belmont Road exit. The trailer collapsed much of the passenger compartment and pinned Green inside. She died instantly.
Green, a 1996 graduate of Meadowbrook High School, was on her way to class at John Tyler Community College in Chester.