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Questions arise after trailer tire detaches on California freeway, killing Stockton driver

Questions raised after trailer tire detaches on freeway, killing Stockton driver
Questions raised after trailer tire detaches on freeway, killing Stockton driver 02:40

STOCKTON — What could be called a freak accident by some is being called corporate negligence by transit safety advocates after a detached trailer tire hopped an Interstate 5 guardrail in California and claimed the life of a driver.

A family is grieving this holiday season after that wheel flew off the trailer and crossed the median, colliding with a car and killing 40-year-old Stockton resident Carlos Castaneda Valencia.

It happened just before 6 p.m. Wednesday along northbound I-5 near Highway 12 in the Stockton area. The California Highway Patrol's (CHP) Stockton division said the tire popped off of a concrete pumping trailer that was being towed by a 2019 Chevrolet pickup truck in the southbound lanes.

Four other people who were in Valencia's vehicle were taken to an area hospital with minor injuries or for precautionary reasons. The driver of the Chevy remained at the scene and was cooperative with law enforcement.

The holidays are always a busy driving time, and drivers like Robert Ingram have some worries while on the road.

"I've seen hitch trailers that are too large for the truck that was towing them, or questionable tie-downs," Ingram said.

It is not yet known exactly what caused the tire to detach, but the CHP Stockton told CBS13 that the tire problem was likely due to a manufacturer error.

"They're stretching the lug nuts, the studs. Over time, they're splitting and then the whole entire tire comes off and becomes an airborne missile," Ron Melancon, a transit safety advocate, added.

Melancon runs a website called Dangerous Trailers. According to the website, the organization "has been pioneering proactive education brochures and legislation since 2004 to reduce and eliminate the predictable and preventable incidents" just like or similar to the one that claimed Valencia's life.

"Who is keeping track of tires coming off trailers, killing a person doing nothing wrong in their own car wearing a seat belt?" Melancon said.

Drivers like Ingram say they'd like to see some training, so truckers and others can feel safer on the road this season.

"There could be at least some classes [like] the way you do for your driver's license or something," Ingram said.

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