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Sara Jo Bolte Dies in Lane-Departure Crash With Trucker Near Otsego, MI

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The mysterious and troubling phenomenon of lane-departure crashes has claimed another life.

Police say an elderly motorist died on Wednesday, June 3, 2009, during a lane-departure collision with a semi in Southwest Michigan.

According to troopers with the Michigan State Police, an unidentified trucker was behind the wheel of a semi as it hauled a load of bricks west along Michigan 89 near Otsego. As the semi approached Dix Street, around 5:45 p.m., he observed an eastbound vehicle veer into oncoming traffic.

Investigators say the trucker was unable to avoid striking the vehicle, operated by Fort Wayne, Indiana resident Sara Jo Bolte, 74. Paramedics responded to the scene and transported Ms. Bolte to a hospital in Plainwell, but doctors were unable to save her.

The trucker apparently escaped unhurt. A dog riding in the car with Ms. Bolte was taken to veterinarian near Kalamazoo for evaluation.

Officers at the scene do not believe speed or alcohol contributed to the crash. The incident remains under investigation.

Disturbingly, vehicles often leave the roadway for no apparent reason, resulting in injury and death. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, 15,037 fatal accidents occurred in the United States in 2011, resulting in the death of 16,948 people.

In total, the FHA reports, departure crashes accounty for 51 percent of all fatal accidents. Specifically:

  • 24 percent of all fatal crashes involve departure to the right
  • 17 percent of fatal crashes involve departure into the median or center line
  • 10 percent involve departure to the left.

Investigators are left to piece together the cause with little in the way of clues. They can have the driver evaulated for possible medical conditions, they can have the vehicle inspected for mechanical failure and they can pull cell phone records for the driver. After that, however, they have little to go on but speculation.

Perhaps the motorist was adjusting the radio, heating and cooling system, or trying to reach an object in the backseat. Perhaps he fell asleep or was distracted by something.

It's truly frightening when one considers how often vehicles leave the roadway without cause. Not only do lane departures threaten the safety of the driver and his passengers, but also fellow drivers and even pedestrians.

Every motorist bears the responsibility of operating his vehicle in a safe manner. When a lane-departure accident does occur, the party at-fault can be the target of legal action.

Victims of lane-departure accidents might be entitled to repayment of medical expenses, wages lost due to missed work and even compensation for past and present pain and suffering.

Only a trained legal professional can properly evaluate a lane-departure accident.


If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a lane-departure crash, contact the experienced Michigan car accident attorneys of Keller & Keller. We can provide you with a free consultation.

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