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Willmington pickup truck accident results in death of 17-year-old

A freak truck accident resulted in the death of a North Carolina teenager on March 30 in Wilmington. The 17-year-old was sitting in the back of a pickup truck attempting to hold down a mattress that was leaning against the roof of the truck cab when the accident occurred. Suddenly a gust of wind blew him and the mattress out of the back of the pickup truck on the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. The teen suffered head trauma from the fall, resulting in his death.

A 62-year-old man from Willard was driving the truck. Witnesses informed police that they believed the driver was traveling at about 35 or 40 miles per hour. North Carolina law permits people ages 16 and older to ride in the bed of a pickup truck. Prior to 2010, the permissible age was 12 years and older, but groups lobbied to change the law.

While this is a very unique case, it highlights all too clearly the importance of safety when operating a motor vehicle. In response the tragedy, the co-chair of the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force urged anyone who operates or rides in a vehicle to ensure that they are buckled in safely. It could save lives.

While nothing can ever make up for the loss the family of this young boy has experienced, it's important that others in such a situation know that they have legal options. In some cases, a wrongful death claim may be appropriate based on the circumstances that led to the tragedy. Such a claim is valid when a death is caused by the negligent or intentional act of another. In this case, the investigation may focus both on the speed of the truck and what measures, if any, were taken to secure the mattress in the truck bed. Understanding the exact conditions of the incident may help the boy's family find some closure.

Source: Star News Online, "Teen killed when blown out of pickup identified," F.T. Norton, April 2, 2012

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