ADOT held responsible for fatal accident

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by Sybil Hoffman

azfamily.com

Posted on April 9, 2012 at 9:45 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 10 at 4:20 PM

PHOENIX -- Tens of thousands of motorists use a popular Arizona interstate daily, but experts say many drivers don't realize it's extremely dangerous. A missing detail in the current reporting system could be putting lives on the line.

It took less than a second.

"He made a hard right and I remember, I can feel the hit in my body, like I can feel what that feels like right now, so that kind of haunts me," Diana Glazer said.

Glazer, husband Michael and their 6-year-old daughter, Sydney, were hit head-on driving north on Interstate 10. They were passing milepost 171.

Diana remembers, "I was screaming, 'Where is Michael and Sydney, where are they?' At one point, I saw the orange tarp or whatever, of Michael, and so I said, 'Why is that on him?'"

Michael and Sydney died instantly.

"From completely the other side of the highway, you never expect a car to be coming at you," Glazer said.

Nine months later, near the same milepost, there was another crossover accident. Unfortunately, two more lives were lost.

"They've overlooked the fact that they've got a major median crossover problem in this particular area," Dr. Robert Bleyl said.

Bleyl is a forensic traffic engineer. He said the Arizona Department of Transportation is oblivious to the number of crossover accidents along I-10 because when the report is taken "there is no checkbox that you can check that this was a cross-median accident. So as a consequence, in spite of the fact that there are numerous cross-median accidents, unless you read each individual accident report, you're not aware of it."

What's worse, Bleyl said I-10 hasn't been upgraded since it was built in 1967. Since then, Bleyl said the volume of traffic on the interstate has more than doubled and the speed limit is 75 miles per hour.

"If you're going that fast, you don't have time to think and react and, therefore, I think a barrier should be up," Glazer said.

Even though the median is 84 feet wide, Bleyl said, "You can cross that 84 feet in about 2 seconds. There's not much opportunity to regain control and, more importantly, opposing traffic really has no opportunity to perceive and react to this vehicle that's now coming across the median straight at them."

"It was agreed to by the experts at trial that had a barrier been in place, it would have redirected that vehicle and this collision would never have occurred," said personal injury attorney Chris Zachar.

In February, a jury found ADOT at fault in the accident and awarded Glazer nearly $8 million, but no amount of money will ever replace Michael and Sydney.

"I still haven't gone in Sydney's room, I can't go in there, it's just, it's really, really hard," Glazer said.

While she continues with her grieving process, she hopes no one else will have to suffer the same tragedy.

"I would trade places with either of them in a second," Glazer said.

ADOT is planning to appeal, therefore, was not able to comment on the case. They did, however, say they are widening the interstate, however, they are not planning to put in a median barrier.

For more information:
www.bleylforensicengineering.com
www.zacharassociates.com

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