New Hampton, Chickasaw County, Iowa - April 19, 2010 - In a two-vehicle collision on South Linn Street (Old Highway 63) a head-on collision around 5:58 p.m. the driver of the car crossing the center line died. The other driver was reported as uninjured. So what caused Mr. Loes to drift across the center line, assuming that is what he did? The police report indicates inattention, distraction or falling asleep were all possible causes. Because the driver died there is no way to really know from interviewing him but the injured passenger, Brett John Palmer may have the answer. He's 24 years of age. He was 35-years-old. The roadway was clear as was the weather.
This story was not covered by the Des Moines Register or KCCI. I'm not sure what criteria is used to select which car accidents will be covered or how crash information reports get on their radar screens. But for whatever reason I could find no news story on this crash.
Morley, Iowa - Another news story did make the Des Moines Register they discuss a premise liability news story. Apparently a barn in Jones County collapsed and a 12-year-old boy was flown to the hospital. The barn location was Morley. From the report the barn was being dismantled when it collapsed without the adults anticipating it that was about to happen. The boy was inside the structure. In a somewhat similar case a construction worker in Clive had the experience of being inside a one story commercial building as all the trusses collapsed. In that instance his injuries were to the spine. He suffered burst fractures. If you're wondering why the structure collapsed, it was caused by the foreman not understanding the instructions marked on the trusses and he had each installed upside down. Trusses are "loaded" meaning they are designed to take a load from one direction and built like a rainbow. The truss is seated on each wall and as the weight of the truss is pulled downward by gravity the rainbow arch flattens out.
A barn dismantling would be a premise liability case; meaning injury caused by someone's negligence would be covered under their homeowner's or farm liability insurance policy. In these type of cases the defect in the property is being caused by an action of the owner, assuming he/she is involved. On the other hand if a private contractor was hired and is doing the dismantling the action would be covered under their business liability policy. I hope that's clear; if not call a lawyer and ask for advice on where to file the claim. Certainly some insurance adjuster will be out to take statements and shoot some photographs to protect (not the boy) the insurance company.
A colleague of mine, David Engelbrecht from Waverly is a very industrious lawyer and land owner. He farms and practices law in Waverly, Iowa - northeast Iowa. He has dismantled barns in the past. At least I recall him discussing a bar dismantling. It's a strenuous and labor intensive job. I wouldn't trust that just anyone would have enough knowledge about physics and construction methods to do it safely. Dave I would trust; he has that kind of sharp and curious mind. Obviously in this case that was true or this young man would not have been inside when it collapsed. Here is a video of an older bar being dismantled. Certainly doesn't seem like a place where a 12-year-old boy should be inside.
Of course older barns are built using a mortise and tenon construction, a method of construction that has been used for thousands of years. A mortise is a hole cut in the wood timber into which a projection or stub of wood is inserted to tightly fit. This joint is held together using a wooden peg. Newer barns are now longer built using this method.
On a recent trip to Mount Rushmore my stepdaughter and I stopped to photograph a wooden bridge. The first image is that bridge; located just outside of Mount Rushmore the bridge is constructed using a newer construction method for wooden structures. Notice how the beams are shaped to take the load of trucks. If you've never been to Mount Rushmore you really should pack everyone in the car and head out there this summer.