Son of woman killed in I-26 crash sues SCDOT, guardrail manufact - FOX Carolina 21

Son of woman killed in I-26 crash sues SCDOT, guardrail manufacturer

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Scene of fatal I-26 crash. (file/FOX Carolina) Scene of fatal I-26 crash. (file/FOX Carolina)
SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A man is suing the South Carolina Department of Transportation and several companies after a faulty guardrail led to the death of his mother, according to a lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, claims that when a GMC Yukon crashed into an X-LITE guardrail on Interstate 26 in April 2017, the rail system "failed to perform its intended safety function and purpose due to a defect(s) with its design, manufacturing, and/or warnings." Charlotte Blankenship, 67, was killed in the crash.

According to manufacturer Lindsay Corporation, the X-LITE guardrails utilize a telescopic W-beam to provide "the life saving performance of a redirective, gating terminal without the high cost."

The lawsuit claims the W-beam penetrated the vehicle and "violently struck" Blankenship, causing her "to suffer immediate, horrible, and agonizing pain, severe damage to her internal organs, internal bleeding, hemorrhaging, multiple fractures and ultimately death."

The lawsuit seeks damages against Lindsay Corporation, Barrier Systems, Bagwell Fence Company which installed the guardrail, and the SCDOT.

Lindsay released the following statement: 

Lindsay Transportation Solutions builds road safety equipment that reduces risks for drivers on America's roads. Lindsay proactively offers a variety of training resources to help states and contractors with proper hardware installation and maintenance, such as road safety tours, a mobile app available in four languages, and onsite training. While X-LITE has successfully passed crash and safety tests in accordance with Federal standards, there is no road safety equipment that can prevent injury every time a driver fails to stay on the road. When properly installed and maintained, roadside hardware like X-LITE will reduce the number and severity of injuries sustained in car accidents. Lindsay continues to work collaboratively with road safety stakeholders on national initiatives to enhance safety on America's roadways. 

The South Carolina Department of Transportation said due to controversy surrounding the X-Lite end-terminal, they have suspended the installation of any new X-Lite devices on state highways. The agency has no further comment on the pending lawsuit. Read SCDOT's full statement:

SCDOT, like other states, utilizes the national crash testing requirements adopted by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for roadside safety hardware, like guardrails.  FHWA issued a safety eligibility for the X-Lite guardrail end-terminal in September 2011 which remains in effect and was revisited by FHWA as recently as May of 2017.  Based on the September 2011 safety eligibility letter, SCDOT approved the X-Lite end terminal for use on the State Highway System.   

Due to the recent controversy surrounding the X-Lite end-terminal, SCDOT has suspended the installation of any new  X-Lite devices on the state’s highways. The agency is monitoring the additional crash research testing performed on these controversial devices and FHWA guidance to determine the disposition of the existing devices that are in place today.

Due to pending lawsuits concerning this product, SCDOT will make no further comment about this matter.

According to the Associated Press, another lawsuit was filed against Lindsay Corporation in Tennessee on Wednesday, claiming a design flaw in the X-LITE guardrail led to a woman's permanent disfigurement.

Tennessee and other states have removed X-LITE guardrails from their roadways due to criticism after deadly collisions, the AP reports.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Coroner identifies NC woman killed in I-26 crash in Spartanburg

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