Hannah Eimers Tennessee teen billed $3K to replace guardrail that killed her after TDOT knew the guard rails were faulty but had yet to replace.
Tennessee state has been forced to issue an apology to the Loudon County family of 17 year old slain teen, Hannah Eimers after ‘erroneously’ billing the dead teen to replace the guardrail that killed her in a car crash in November.
Notice of snafus came when Hannah’s flabbergasted father came across the bill demanding a payment of $2970.14 to replace the guardrail which speared his daughter to death.
In his complaint, the father said the model of guardrail that struck his daughter was poorly designed and dangerous reported USA today.
Matters came to the fore when around 5.44am, November 1, Hannah Eimers was driving her father’s 2000 Volvo S80 on Interstate 75 northbound near Niota, Tenn., when the car left the road, traveled into the median and hit the end of a guardrail with the driver’s side door, according to a Tennessee Highway Patrol crash report.
Instead of deflecting the car or buckling to absorb the impact, the guardrail end impaled the vehicle, striking the teen in the head and chest and pushing her into the back seat. Hannah died instantly.
The crash report noted Hannah’s car ‘took out approximately 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters) of guardrail’ before it came to a halt with the rail still rammed inside.
Four months later, Steven Eimers of Lenoir City received a $2,970 bill from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, dated Feb. 24 and addressed to Hannah for the cost of labor and materials to install 25 feet of guardrail at the scene of the crash.
‘I’m shocked, the audacity,’ extolled the father via Local 8. ‘What bothers me is that they’re playing Russian roulette with people’s lives. They know these devices do not perform at high speeds and in situations like my daughter’s accident, but they leave them in place.’
The guardrail end Hannah hit was a Lindsay X-LITE, a model that the state transportation department had removed from its approved products list just one week earlier.
Responded Tennessee Transportation spokesperson, Mark Nagi: ‘The bill was the result of a mistake somewhere in processing,’
The transportation department’s removal of the model from its product list means the agency will not use it in new installations, nevertheless no less than 1,000 guardrail ends remain on Tennessee roads, Nagi conceded.
On March 31, the department will begin accepting bids for a contract to remove most of them in places where the speed limit exceeds 45 mph.
To date the department didn’t disclose the exact number or the cost of the contract.
The guardrail, which is supposed to collapse like a telescope when hit on the end, didn’t always work as expected at speeds higher than about 60 mph, Nagi said. The speed limit along the stretch of I-75 where Hannah died was 70 mph.
The model was removed from state approval Oct. 25.
Of note, the Virginia Department of Transportation had removed the model from its approved product list about two months before that because of concerns with the results of crash tests that an independent contractor performed.
The Virginia agency’s emphasis on guardrail safety came after whistleblower Joshua Harman won a $663 million settlement against Trinity Industries (TRN), saying the company altered its ET-Plus model terminal without getting approval from the Federal Highway Administration.
‘It worked perfectly and they changed it for monetary reasons and now it’s killing people,’ Harman said.
Trinity has since been involved in lawsuits nationwide in which crash victims alleged the unauthorized changes caused the guardrails to spear vehicles, resulting in injuries and deaths.
More than 20,000 ET-Plus end caps remain on Tennessee roads.
Eimers said he will push authorities to remove and replace all guardrail ends that are deemed dangerous.
Reiterated the father, ‘I’ve got to be able to look the next mom or dad in the eye and say, ‘I tried to make some changes in the culture of TDOT. I tried to get some dangerous devices off the road”.