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Wheel Failure and Runaway Tire

A young man, traveling eastbound on a Dallas freeway with a concrete lane divider, had a flat on his left rear tire. He was traveling in the left lane and rather than pull across two lanes of traffic he decided to pull off on the left next to the center barrier. He exited his car to start changing his tire.

About 1/8 mile back to the west, a rock hauler was also traveling east bound. The left rear dual wheels exited the rock hauling trailer.

Rear dual wheels of a rock hauler
Photograph A Left rear dual wheels from the rock hauling trailer.

Shortly thereafter, the dual wheels, which also were traveling east bound, struck the young man who was fatally injured.

A visual inspection of the outside surface of the wheel rim revealed, as shown in Photograph B below, that wheel bearing grease had been splayed out around the wheel circumference.

Greased wheel rim
Photograph B Wheel bearing grease splayed out around inner wheel.

Further examination of the trailer axle revealed severe long term evidence of lack of maintenance and/or poor maintenance. An overall view of the remains of the trailer axle and wheel bearing are shown in Photograph C.

Overall view of trailer axle and wheel bearing
Photograph C Overall view of subject trailer axle and wheel bearing.

Visual evidence clearly indicated that the subject rock hauler had high temperature grease leaking and being spun out on the outside surfaces of the trailer wheel. The grease print was enhanced with dust from the quarry where the rock load was picked up. Even casual visual inspections should have alerted the driver that a lubrication problem existed.

The matter was resolved without destructive testing, deposition or trial testimony.

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J.E.I. Metallurgical, Inc.

5514 Harbor Town
Dallas, Texas 75287

Phone: (972) 934-0493
Fax: (469) 737-3938
Email: r.c.jerner@metallurgist.com

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