The parents of a 32-year-old woman killed last month on Interstate 25 after a truck driver’s load hit an overpass are suing a Colorado towing company and the driver for wrongful death, according to court documents filed Wednesday.
An excavator on the driver’s semitruck hit an overpass, causing a large piece of concrete to fall through the woman’s windshield and strike her, according to the lawsuit filed in Larimer County District Court.
The lawsuit accuses driver Darnell Yingling and Import Towing and Recovery of “recklessly and negligently” failing to ensure the excavator was properly secured to the truck and ignoring the maximum clearance height for an overpass bridge while driving on the interstate through Mead.
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Megan Arneson, a Loveland preschool teacher, died inside her car. Two people who saw the crash helped pull her 10-year-old son, Joe Duenas, out of the car, according to the lawsuit.
Arneson’s parents, who are now Joe’s guardians, are seeking damages to cover costs from their daughter’s death, including funeral expenses, mental pain and suffering and emotional distress and impairment of quality of life and Joe’s medical care. The lawsuit did not list a specific amount the family is seeking in compensation.
“Our daughter was a very bright light in this world and a fantastic mother to her wonderful 10-year-old son,” Brian Keith Christianson and Mirella Isabel Williams said in a statement. “We believe that her violent and traumatic death was completely preventable and we want to do everything in our power to make sure that this never happens to anyone else.”
Import Towing and Recovery declined to comment on the lawsuit Wednesday and did not confirm if Yingling was still an employee at the company.
According to the lawsuit, Arneson and her son were driving north on I-25, on their way home from a water park just after 6 p.m. on Aug. 8 when an excavator being towed on Yingling’s truck hit an overpass at Weld County Road 34. The impact created a cloud of dust and concrete and debris fell onto the highway.
Arneson swerved to the left to try to avoid the falling debris, but a large piece of concrete fell through her windshield and struck her. Her Honda-CRV crashed into the center median, the lawsuit states.
The excavator was ripped off Yingling’s trailer, skidded across the roadway and fell on its side blocking both northbound lanes of the highway. A couple in a nearby vehicle saw Joe climbing from the backseat to try to get his mother’s phone and helped pull him from the car, the lawsuit states.
Michael Kane, an attorney representing Arneson’s parents, said the lawsuit will help “obtain the full truth” about what happened and to “make sure that this deadly behavior is never repeated.”
“It was obvious that driving on a crowded major highway with a load too tall to clear an underpass would cause death and destruction,” Kane said in an emailed statement.
The maximum clearance height for the overpass at Weld County Road 34 is listed as 17 feet, 1 inch for the bridge. Vehicles over the height of 14 feet need a special permit and Yingling did not have one for the trailer he was driving, the Colorado State Patrol told CBS News.
An investigator with Colorado State Patrol is meeting with the district attorney Wednesday to discuss what charges, if any, should be filed against Yingling, a CSP spokesman told The Sun.