No charges in teacher aide’s death
March 15, 2002
No criminal charges will be filed in a fluke accident that killed a Silver Springs teacher’s aide, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol.
“There will be no criminal charges. We sat down and talked to the prosecutors and after our investigation we can’t find any fault on the driver,” said NHP Sgt. Dave Fisher.
Karen Marie Hatcher, 41, died about 6:30 a.m. Jan. 14 when a set of dual wheels on an eastbound double-trailer tanker truck broke free from its axle, jumped over the center divide and landed in the path of Hatcher’s westbound vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Her husband, Robert, and daughter Jolene, 14, sustained minor injuries. The tractor trailer combination is owned by Berry-Hinkley Industries in Sparks.
The NHP investigation concluded lack of lubricating oil on the axle caused the accident.
“The friction of the bearing rotating without oil caused it to fail. The outer bearing ground itself down, which allowed the dual wheels and other components to separate from the trailer,” the report states.
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Included in the completed investigation is a statement by Hatcher’s husband Robert, who was driving the family’s 1992 GMC truck westbound when the accident occurred.
Robert Hatcher said the trio left their Silver Springs home about 5:30 a.m. to head to Reno.
“Jolene was in the back seat, sleeping. She had her seat belt on. Karen was on the passenger side, seat belted and asleep,” he said.
“The only thing I remember was after my truck stopped. I was looking for my wife. I walked back to the truck. I tried to get her out on my side. I reached over and tried to lift.”
Robert Hatcher said a passerby took him to sit in his car while they awaited emergency crews.
Truck driver Dale Osterhout, 36, of Elko, wrote in his statement that he felt the “jerk” and someone told him on the CB radio he was shooting sparks. A trooper later came across Osterhout at a rest stop and informed him of the accident, according to the report.
A check of Osterhout’s driving record showed no discrepancies, the report states.
The equipment maintenance files of the tractor trailer combination “show they were well inspected and maintained.”
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