The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark search twitter facebook feed linkedin instagram google-plus avvo phone envelope checkmark mail-reply spinner error close
Skip to main content

NBC news affiliate, WSAV, has reported that a semi truck crash rear-ended a minivan on I-95 in McIntosh County, Georgia killing three-year-old Sean Thornton and injuring five others.

A toddler is dead, 5 other people injured after an accident along Interstate 95.

The van was apparently driving southbound near mile marker 63 in McIntosh County when it was hit from behind by a tractor trailer and run off the road.

A family of 5, Susan and Daniel Thornton and their three children, all from Pittsburgh, were inside at the time of the crash.

It took nearly two hours for Mcintosh and Liberty County firefighters to get them all out.

3 year-old Sean Thornton died in the crash

The other 4 family members were taken to the hospital with various other injuries.

The truck driver, Willie Hill, suffered a broken pelvis and leg.

The accident is still under investigation.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Thornton family, their friends and their community. No family should have to endure such a needless tragedy.

Too many people have been killed by semi truck crashes and trucking accidents.

Nationwide, large trucks (known as tractor trailers, semi trucks, eighteen wheelers, diesel, big rigs, or commercial trucks) make up only about 3% of the vehicles on the road. However, they account for far more traffic fatalities. For example, in Missouri, semi truck crashes make up as much as 15% of traffic deaths. In Illinois, tractor trailer crashes cause more than 10% of traffic deaths.

The National Transportation Safety Board ("NTSB") lists the following as some of the most common causes of big rig accidents:

  • Poor Driver Training

  • Driver Fatigue (Tiredness)

  • Speeding

  • Overloaded Trucks

  • Oversized Trucks

  • Brake Failure

  • Poor Driving Conditions

  • Driver Inexperience

  • Failure To Yield The Right-Of-Way

  • Driving Under The Influence of Alcohol Or Drugs

  • Aggressive, Dangerous Or Reckless Driving

  • Mechanical Failure (Or Improper Maintenance)

  • Defective Parts (Such As Defective Steering Or Brakes)

Truckers and trucking companies must be mindful of each of these trucking accident causes.

Driving an 80,000 tractor trailer covering hundreds of thousands of miles is an awesome responsibility. Truckers and trucking corporations must be vigilant about safety.

Driver fatigue is a particularly dangerous — and completely preventable — cause of trucking accidents. Nearly 15 years ago, the NTSB issued a report warning of truck driver fatigue dangers.

The NTSB found that trucker fatigue was a contributing factor in 30%-40% of all diesel truck accidents. The NTSB found that proper sleep patterns are imperative for truck driver safety. Truckers must get 8 hours of continuous sleep after driving for 10 hours or after being on duty for 15 hours for proper safety.

The NTSB just recently issued a warning that truck drivers should also be screened for a medical condition called sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea denies people the rest they need, and it has been found to be a factor in incident involving every transportation mode, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said in letters.

Trucking companies need to quit putting profits over safety. Do they think there is a separate set of rules for them? These companies need to make sure their drivers are properly trained, properly rested and using the highest degree of safety at all times.

Visit our trucking accident web site to learn more about trucking accident safety or trucking accident investigation.

Learn more and become a fan of Langdon & Emison on Facebook.


  1. Gravatar for Jennifer

    Please pray for the Thornton family. They are members of our parish at St. Teresa of Avila, their children go to school with our children. They are a lovely family... this has truly come as a shock to everyone.

    This accident could have been prevented.

    This could happen to anyone's family.

    My heart breaks...

  2. Gravatar for Mike

    My prayers go out to the family. I and a couple of other men were the first to the scene, and it is a miracle that 4 of the family came out of this alive. The damage and crushing of the vehicle were beyond description and I could not imagine a more violent or terrifying accident that appeared to be no fault of their own. Please pray for the healing of this family.

  3. Gravatar for David

    May god be with the thornton family and friends. I was one of the men that was first to the scene with mike. A tragic accident. I must say that the gentelmen that were all down in the swamp seconds after the accident were a genuine group of men. I would also like to praise the emergency personel for there response time. Although I do not know the thornton family, My family and I mourn your loss. You are in our prayers. God bless.

  4. Gravatar for Heather Shank

    Thank you David and Mike for your kindness and for doing the wonderful heroic job that you do. I am one of Sue's many cousins. We have a very large family and are devastated by what has happened. We are so thankful for your actions. Please thank everyone involved for all of their efforts. Without all of them this could have been a worse tragedy and we could have lost them all. May god bless you all

  5. Gravatar for Mike

    Heather, thanks for the thanks. I was checking back in to see if there was an update on the family health. I did not mean to imply that I was an emergency worker, just a concerned traveler that tried to help. David and I don't know each other, just that we were the first frantic travelers able to fight our way through the swamp and thicket to get to the scene. I will give some info to you, as if it were me, I'd want to know what and how this happened. How it happened, I don't really know. Perhaps David had a better view. I was 200 yards behind the truck when it happened, and did not even know another vehicle was involved until I got to the scene. My recollection is that all at once, I saw truck brake lights, stuff (car parts) flying, the truck veering quickly to the right and going straight off the road and down thru the water and plowing thru the trees. The truck was still moving very fast (at least 60 mph) as it left the roadway. It took about 3 minutes to get through the water and thicket to where the front of the truck and van were. The van was so badly crushed that we could not do much except tell Daniel not to move and assure them help was coming. We could only see Daniel and Susan, because the back was crushed too much. Daniel was able to tell us that 3 children were in the car. Susan was very bad off and could not speak. I will say I was able to reach Sean's hand and bare foot. He was sitting behind Susan. I don't think he suffered. I squeezed his hand and called to him. There was no response and I got no pulse. I'm very very sorry for his passing.

    More and more men (travelers) arrived thru the 1st 15 minutes (about 20 I would say) and we did what we could to try to pry away twisted metal and move a fallen tree blocking access to the right side. The EMT's started getting there in about 15 minutes, as we were not close to any large towns. At about 30 minutes, the heavy equipment like chain saws and cutters and jaws arrived. I left shortly after this so as not to be in the way. We had checked on the truck driver and heard him yell, but I can assure you the focus of everyone down there was the Thornton family. I can also assure you that all those involved that day went home in shock and have broken down and are grieving for the family as well. It is truly a miracle that anyone survived this. If you have an update on the family, could you post it. My prayers are with you and the family.

  6. Gravatar for Brett Emison

    Mike and David -- Thank you very much for your selfless acts in helping the Thornton family and for sharing your comments in this forum. I am heartened by your compassion and good will.

    My prayers continue to go out to the Thornton family, their friends and their neighbors.

    There has been additional coverage of this tragic wreck and I have posted the updates at

    These updated reports provide information on the family's injuries and eye witness accounts of the collision. The reports also reflect what a truly wonderful family the Thorntons are.

    Mike - reports would corroborate your recollection that the semi truck driver did not slow his vehicle before hitting the Thornton's minivan.

    Thanks again for your selfless acts and for taking time to share your comments here.

  7. Gravatar for Lindsay


    I am so sorry for you and your family's loss. I have not stopped thinking about the Thornton family since seeing this horrific accident. I pray for them every time I think of them. My husband was also one of the first few men to get down to the van and semi and I thank God for the men that made there way down there to help. Heather, I know that you and your family are going through a lot and I pray that God lays his hand over all of ya'll. Please let Mr. Daniel and Mrs. Susan know that there are so many people praying for them.

  8. Gravatar for Bonnie

    I like Heather, would like to thank everyone for the love and kindness that you showed my niece Susan and her family. The loss of little Sean has changed our family forever. I also would like to thank everyone for their prayers.Please keep them coming as the road ahead will be a rough one. Dan and his 8 year old son have been released from the hospital. Their daughter whom suffered a broken arm and leg is now coherent and talking some. Susan's foot has been reattached and she has been removed from icu. (she still has alot of healing to do) Today she was told that Sean has went to be with the Lord!So please continue the prayers for this Wonderful family.And Mike thank you so much for filling us in on that day. We still have many,many questions as to why the trucker was going at that speed and why he never hit the brakes but I guess that will be answered in time.

  9. Gravatar for Mike

    Bonnie, thanks for the update. It's hard to get any update on the family condition, as the news flow stopped after about 2 days. I've been particularly worried about Susan, since she was so bad off, and the other 2 children, as we could not reach or see them to see how they were. I will keep them in my prayers. I'm sure the details of this will come in time. From my vantage point being behind the truck, I never had any notion that traffic had slowed down. Why did the truck driver not see this first? He is up high and has the best view of the road ahead. Clearly distracted and not watching the road for way too long.

  10. Gravatar for mike

    PS: I don't even know what this site or blog is. I just happened upon it from a google and posted/re-posted as it appeared that family members also found it.

Comments are closed.

Of Interest