FHP: Crash injuries not the fault of guardrail

Rescuers cut driver out of car after violent crash on Interstate 295


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Injuries from a violent crash on Interstate 295 last week that caught the attention of a national safety expert were not the fault of the guardrail that impaled the vehicle, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

According to a Florida Traffic Crash Report that News4Jax received Thursday night, 30-year-old Jonathon Jacoway, of Middleburg, was driving north March 3 when his car ran off the road, hit a light pole and struck a guardrail, which pierced the vehicle.

Troopers say a large portion of the guardrail entered the vehicle from the right rear window and lodged itself in the car,  pinning the Jacoway. He had to cut out of the car.

According to the FHP report, Jacoway was cited with careless driving.

DOCUMENT: FHP investigation of I-295 crash

The roads were wet Thursday night, according to first responders on I-295 who were called to rescue a person from the mangled vehicle.

Whistleblower Expert Joshua Harman told News4Jax said the guardrail in question along I-295 is Trinity Highway's Slotted Rail Terminal, which is designed to redirect the energy of an out-of-control vehicle.

After looking at photos and video of the crash, Harman considered the extent of the injuries to be a problem.

“Any time the guardrail penetrates the passenger compartment, it’s considered a complete failure on the performance of the product or the installation in some form or some way,” Harman said.

Jeff Eller, spokesperson for Trinity Highway Products, says the guardrail may not be to blame and released this statement:

"If any guardrail system enters into the vehicle compartment, it does not make it defective, it means that you have to take into account the myriad of circumstances that go into each individual crash.

"All guardrail end terminal systems are designed to specific standards. If any guardrail is impacted outside those standards, it may not perform as designed. If, in fact, you impact any guardrail system at a speed above those design specs, it may enter into the vehicle. 

"No guardrail end terminal system is designed to take into account side of the vehicle impacts. And, if it is not installed correctly or maintained correctly, it may not perform at all. Trinity Highway Products does not set design standards. Those standards are set by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials and the transportation review board."

The Florida Highway Administration approves and rejects test results of guardrails that are conducted by approved testing facilities. DOT spokesman David Fierro wouldn't comment specifically about the guardrail accident other than to say it will be be investigated.

“Whenever there's a crash, there’s an investigation,” Fierro said. “Law enforcement has a lead on that, and then, periodically, we look at that to see if there is any pattern or so forth.”

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