In one of the most devastating auto accidents West Palm Beach has ever seen, seven people lost their lives in a fiery explosion involving multiple 18-wheelers.
On January 3, 2019, a tractor-trailer driven by trucker Steve Holland, struck a passenger vehicle driven by a 41-year old woman named Robyn Rattray. The two vehicles slammed through the guardrail, striking a Church van before flipping over several times as passengers were ejected from the van. This van was carrying 14-year old Jeremiah Warren, who succumbed to his injuries along with six others, including Holland.
After striking the van, Holland’s big rig then slammed into another commercial truck driven by Douglas Bolkema. As both trucks and several other passenger vehicles careened out of control, diesel fuel was left on the road, igniting the collision.
Now, the mother of Jeremiah Warren is seeking justice. Just one week after the accident, Warren’s family filed a wrongful death claim against the trucking companies that employed each of the truck drivers, and the driver of the Honda that started the chain reaction, Rattray.
We asked a Lakeland truck accident lawyer for a comment on the likelihood of success for Warren’s family, and we were told, “The Warrens stand a good chance in court, as long as the evidence presented shows that the trucking company’s negligence was to blame for the accident.”
This case has yet to be settled, but there are a few details that we believe are sure to come down in the Warren’s favor. It turns out that Holland had a history of aggressive driving. He had been ticketed in multiple states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, and Florida from 2000 to 2014.
His record shows citations for failure to maintain proof of auto insurance, speeding, driving an overloaded truck, and driving an unsafe vehicle. The trucking company that employed Holland, Eagles Express, should have thoroughly reviewed Holland’s driving record prior to taking him on as a driver, and if they did carefully review his record, and allowed him to drive anyway, it is quite possible that the Warren’s could receive punitive damages if the wrongful death claim is not settled out of court.
Rattray, who also was seriously injured in the collision, is accused of operating her vehicle in an unsafe manner, failing to keep a lookout while operating her vehicle, and distracted driving, all of which contributed to the death of Jeremiah Warren, who was on his way to Disney World with a church group the day of the collision.