Separated tire tread triggers deadly rollover crash


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Jill Galus

Posted on April 24, 2014 at 7:43 AM

Updated Monday, Apr 28 at 6:43 PM

Map: 52nd Street and McDowell

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PHOENIX -- A separated tire tread is likely to blame for a deadly early morning rollover crash that closed a portion of McDowell Road for hours Thursday morning.

It happened near 52nd Street between 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m.

Howard Wilson Laporte, 64, was behind the wheel of the 1999 Mercury Mountaineer. Because he was not wearing a seat belt, Laporte was thrown from the SUV when it rolled.

According to Phoenix police, the SUV was heading west when the tread on one of the rear tires separated. Although the tire did not blow out, Laporte hit the brakes and overcorrected, causing the Mountaineer to veer into the side of the mountain, Sgt. Tommy Thompson said in an email to media outlets. The impact caused the SUV to flip.

"Three nurses happened to drive up on the scene and administered first aid," Thompson said.

They were not able to save Laporte.

Investigators are trying to determine if impairment or speed were factors in the wreck.

The westbound lanes of McDowell Road were closed between 52nd Street and Galvin Parkway while police conducted the on-scene portion of their investigation and crews cleaned up the debris from the crash. The road reopened shortly before 7:30 a.m.

There are a number of things that can cause tread separation, including a manufacturer's defect, over-inflation, careless driving, an improperly repaired flat, and excessive tire wear.