It was a usual Monday morning for Tracy Carson and Daniel Whitfield. Whitfield, 39, requested a trip from 53-year-old Carson, a St. Petersburg-based Uber driver because he was on his way to Tampa International Airport to catch a flight to Washington, D.C.
The two had a lot to talk about, including the six kids between them, the upcoming birthday of Whitfield’s youngest, Whitfield’s work as a copywriter, and Carson’s experience in the U.S. air force.
By around seven in the morning, they had crossed the Howard Frankland Bridge when Carson decided to stop due to backed-up traffic on the Kennedy Boulevard and State Road 589 exit ramp from northbound Interstate 275 when a pickup truck hit their car from the back. If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, it is important to seek legal advice from experienced law offices in NYC for truck accident.
The tragedy of Tracy Carson and Daniel Whitfield is the latest of frightening tales of accidents caused by distracted driving in the United States. Reporters claim that the driver responsible for the collision attempted to pick up his dropped phone at the time of the accident. In the aftermath of an Uber accident, the best-case scenario includes everyone walking away. In this case, the pickup truck driver and the organization he worked for that day are now being sued for wrongful death.
The Accomplished Life of Whitfield
Daniel Whitfield had accomplished two of his life’s primary objectives: to become a published novelist and to have a large family.
Daniel John Whitfield was born and raised in Birmingham, England. As a child, he was a huge fan of G.I. Joe, Star Wars, and pro wrestling. Joe. After completing his studies at the University of Nottingham, Whitfield moved to the United States to attend college.
There, he studied American and Japanese history and taught British history as an assistant professor. He relocated to D.C. for an internship, where he met Nena, his wife. So, after the internship, Whitfield landed a copywriting job at Eberle Communications Group.
Dan and Nena married in 2014 and were blessed with their firstborn, Dagny in 2015. The couple decided to live in St. Petersburg after falling in love with nearby beaches during one of their Nena’s fried visits. In 2018, they welcomed their second child, Magnolia, and they relocated to St. Petersburg the following year. Zore, their last born, turned one year a month ago.
Dan’s first book, “Eagle Ascending,” was released last year. The book is a thriller about a New York officer who discovers that his grandfather, a notorious Nazi commander, is linked to the murder while looking into a deadly bombing of a Jewish museum. The release of Whitfield’s second book, which is complete, is scheduled for 2023.
Dan persuaded Eberle to allow him to work remotely, but he was still required to visit the corporate headquarters twice a month. Nena Whitfield thought it weird that Dan didn’t send his customary text message informing her that he had boarded the jet and was about to take off on the morning of the crash. However, not long a state trooper then knocked on their home, informing her about the devastating news.
In a Facebook post, Nena recalls how her husband often gave her flowers when he went to the grocery store. In another post, she stated that she was in a depression stage following her husband’s death, which has been a hard reality to accept. She added that Dan was not “the live fast, die young kind.”
Carson Craved An Adventurous Life
Tracy Carson, an Illinois native, joined the US Air Force, trained as a linguist, and served in California, Maryland, and South Korea. After leaving the Air Force, she served for the government before opening a coffee business. She traveled and lived all over the world before deciding to settle in St. Pete.
Her obituary described her as being courageous, witty, and caring. She liked being outside, swimming, skydiving, and skiing with family and friends. Her obituary stated that she could talk to whomever she encountered. Most importantly, she always tried to spread a good view of life to everyone she came into contact with.
According to the lawsuit, Carson had three children, the youngest of which was only 16 at the time the accident occurred.
A Dropped Phone Was Just the Beginning
On the notoriously congested exit ramp, Carson halted for a queue of backed-up vehicles. Howard E. Hientzelmeier followed behind them in driving a 2021 Ram truck. According to the wrongful death filing, the pickup belonged to Hientzelmeier’s firm, Sunrun, a solar panel business.
When Hientzelmeier dropped his phone, he went to reach for it. The pickup truck then hit the back of the Camry, twisting it around and sending it into a concrete pillar and a traffic sign. After that, the Ram struck the back of a Hyundai, resulting in three additional vehicles taking impact.
Hientzelmeier informed officers that he dropped his smartphone down the floorboard and was trying to locate it. However, it is believed that Hientzelmeier was driving carelessly or negligently. At the time of this writing, no one has issued a citation or filed a criminal complaint against him, as the traffic homicide investigation is still ongoing.
Both Carson and Whitfield’s lawyers have filed wrongful death lawsuits. According to both claims, Sunrun is equally accountable for Hientzelmeier’s negligence because it was his employer. Both estates demand jury trials and a broad range of damages.
According to official statistics, the number of distracted driving fatalities in Florida in 2021 was 333, the highest in at least eight years. In the state last year, on average, there were more than 1,000 distracted driving collisions each week.
Federal officers have identified distracted driving as a public health risk. Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have highlighted this issue and dedicated a page on their homepage.
According to federal statistics, distracted driving caused more than 3,100 fatalities and 424,000 injuries in crashes in the United States in 2021. Nearly one person per day between 2010 and 2019 perished in crashes caused by distracted drivers, which accounted for around 3,000 fatalities annually.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Highway Patrol has started a program (Put It Down campaign) that aims to educate and discourage drivers from using their phones and other gadgets while on the road.
According to Michael Babboni, Nena Whitfield’s lawyer, the horrific tragedies might persist since it doesn’t seem like people understand the danger of distracted driving.
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