Sole survivor of 2017 triple-fatality car crash in Lynnwood sues trucking companies involved

The top of the Kia Sorento was sheared off when it slide under the semi-truck trailer in July 2017. (Courtesy of Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)

A 17-year-old girl who was the sole survivor of a fatal 2017 vehicle collision near Alderwood mall is suing multiple trucking companies for negligence that resulted in the death of three of her friends and caused her serious injury.

Additionally, the suit names as a defendant the estate of the 16-year-old driver who was at the wheel of the vehicle carrying the teens when it struck the trailer in the 16900 block of Alderwood Mall Parkway.

According to the complaint filed May 20 by Davis Law Group in King County Superior Court, a semi-truck trailer was “illegally and negligently” parked in the early hours of July 26, 2017, when the vehicle carrying the four teens struck it, hitting the trailer hard enough to slide underneath, shearing off the roof of the top and instantly killing three of the teens inside.

The survivor, then 15-year-old Kiley O’Laughlin, was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with life-threatening injuries to her head, face and abdomen. O’Laughlin was a student at Cascade High School in Everett at the time of the collision. The other three teens — Landon Staley, 16, Travin Nelson-Phongphiou, 16, and Mikayla Sorenson, 15 — were students at Henry M. Jackson High School in Mill Creek.

The suit names Wabash National Corporation, which manufactured the Duraplate semi-trailer; McKinney Vehicle Services, Inc., supplier of the rental trailer; Trillium Management, Inc, parent company of McKinney; Spirit Transpiration Systems, Inc., which owned a truck parked nearby; Key Trucking Inc, which hired the semi driver; and the driver’s personal business, SP Trucking, as defendants

A timeline created by Davis Law Group describes the defendant driver as having parked the Wabash trailer along Alderwood Mall Parkway facing oncoming traffic against government regulations. Some time later, another semi truck owned by Spirit Transportation parked closely in front of the Wabash truck.

The complaint alleges that the trucking companies were at fault for allowing the driver to park backwards, facing oncoming traffic. Though the back of the trailer had reflective tape on displayed, there was none on the front of the truck, decreasing visibility for traffic. Neither truck activated hazard lights to alert oncoming traffic and there were no warning triangles, flares, or other devices placed by either driver to alert oncoming traffic, the suit states.

Had the trailer been facing the correct direction, the vehicle would have struck the bumper rather than sliding under the trailer, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the collision.

Following the investigation by detectives from the sheriff’s office, it was determined that driver Staley was speeding and driving under the influence of marijuana when the collision occurred at 4 a.m. while the vehicle was traveling northbound near the 16900 block of Alderwood Mall Parkway. Detectives also said it occurred within the first six months of the Staley receiving his intermediate license. It is illegal for drivers with an intermediate license to have passengers under age 20 in a vehicle and to drive between the hours of 1-5 a.m.

In addition to suffering serious injuries, O’Laughlin says she suffered emotional distress after witnessing the “severe and graphic injuries” that caused the deaths of the other passengers. 

–By Cody Sexton

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