(WPRI) — A Target 12 Investigators exclusive recently revealed possible safety concerns involving a guardrail system covering thousands of miles of roads nationwide, including Rhode Island.
Susan Hogan spoke exclusively to a man who lost both his legs after hitting one of these guardrails in question.
Although it’s only been 4 months since the accident, Jay Traylor says he’s healing however the images of that day will never fade away.
9-1-1 Call January 27, 2014
911 Operator: “Orange County 911 Capt. MacPherson”
Jay Traylor: “I’m looking for help! I lost my legs in a wreck.”
911 Operator: “Where are you?”
Jay Traylor: “We need to get someone out here quick I can’t stop the bleeding.”
Jay Traylor was driving to his home in North Carolina when he fell asleep at the wheel. He remembers what happened next, “When I came to, that guardrail was coming through the floor panel of the Isuzu Trooper I was driving.”
According to a lawsuit filed on behalf of Traylor, the guardrail and end terminal penetrated through the driver’s side floorboard, “impaling Traylor” and “causing massive injuries.”
Traylor says the force of the guardrail took his wallet out of his back pocket and threw it 20 feet out the back window.
As a result of the accident, Traylor is now a double amputee. The lawsuit claims the guardrail Traylor hit was “defective and unreasonably dangerous” and because of this it did not perform as intended. That guardrail according to court documents is manufactured by Trinity Industries in Dallas, TX.
Steven Lawrence, Traylor’s Attorney represents several victims who claim they were seriously injured after hitting a Trinity guardrail end terminal. He says “these are needless tragedies.” Lawrence claims Trinity made certain design changes years ago to its end terminals and never “officially notified the Federal Highway Administration.” He says by law Trinity is required to do this. Lawrence and other safety experts say it’s those changes that are causing the guardrails to fail.
Sean Kane, a safety expert says, “It’s failing in a way that’s causing the guardrail to spear into the vehicle literally and impact the occupant.”
Trinity filed a response to Traylor’s lawsuit saying it denies “each and every allegation” and it points out that the lawsuit fails to describe what kind of guardrail end terminal was allegedly impacted saying there is “no allegation that the guardrail involved in the accident is an ET-Plus…” the part of the guardrail in question.
As for Traylor, he believes he is one of the luckier accident victims. Lawsuits have been filed on behalf of others who were killed in car crashes that involved Trinity ET-Plus guardrails.
Traylor says, “I was fortunate I survived, damaged for life, but I survived.”
The Federal Highway Administration tells Target 12 that while Trinity inadvertently omitted certain design details, the guardrail met “appropriate crash testing criteria.” The FHWA also tells us it’s received no complaints from states over the years during which the guardrail has been used.