Courtney Ann Sanford, 32, in High Point, NC, Dies in Car vs. Dump Truck Crash

Who:
Courtney Ann Sanford, 32, from Clemmons, died in High Point, NC, close to Baker Road at around 8:30 AM on Thursday, 4/24/14, in her 2005 Toyota Corolla. She collided with a metal recycling truck. She died instantly. The truck driver, John Wallace Thompson, 73, was unhurt.

How:
Sanford was northbound on Bus. 85 when she crossed the median and crashed into a southbound metal recycling truck. Per police reports, Sanford was traveling at 45 mph at the time of impact. After the collision, her car caught fire, although the flames were put out quickly. The truck left the road and impacted a tree. Per police reports, Sanford’s cell phone showed she had made a final Facebook post to friends at 8:33 AM, one minute prior to the report of the accident. A review of Sanders’ cell phone also indicated that she had been taking and posting pictures, or selfies, of herself while driving. Per investigators, Sanford’s last post was: “The happy song makes me HAPPY,” Her friends apparently notified investigators later that day due to the coincidence of the time stamp of the Facebook post and the time of the accident. Sanford was also reportedly wearing a seat belt, but it was somehow fastened improperly.

Why:
This collision was completely preventable. The culprit was distracted driving. Specifically, Sanders was taking pictures of herself, texting, and posting to Facebook in the minutes preceding and leading to the moment of impact. Texting is implicated in a number of fatal crashes per year, and is considered to impair driving abilities as much as alcoholic consumption.

Given the physics of the crash, the results are sadly unsurprising. The 2005 Corolla weighed ~2582 lbs and came with a good frontal score. It was impacted by what appears to be a standard 10-wheel dump truck, which can weigh at least 24,000 lbs. That’s at least 930% of the weight the Corolla would have experienced in an IIHS front impact test.

Given the likely speeds of the collision (~45 mph), the collision likely imparted at least 2.2MJ of energy into the Corolla. The standard front impact test for the Corolla would simulate 187KJ of energy (a Corolla impacting its twin at 40 mph). In other words, she faced 1176% of the force she’d have experienced in the types of crashes Corollas are front rated for. Given these forces, her odds of survival were, sadly, virtually non-existent.

The reconstruction of this crash is sadly summarized concisely by the police spokesperson’s statements here:

‘In a matter of seconds, a life was over just so she could notify some friends that she was happy.’

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