Two Georgia College Freshmen Die In MINI Cooper Car Wreck

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On September 22, 2011, John Harof and Alexander Delor, two freshmen from the Georgia College and State University were killed in a single car accident in Milledgeville, Baldwin County, Georgia. The two men had graduated together from the Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, Georgia last year. The Atlanta Journal Constitution article references that Christian Smith was operating a MINI Cooper when he allegedly lost control of the vehicle.

Apparently, the students were on the way back to campus from Wal-Mart around 1 a.m. At the time Mr. Smith lost control, the vehicle went airborne, flipped several times and struck a tree. As of the date of the article, the two other occupants Christian Smith and Tyler Zecker, who were situated in the front seat, were in serious condition. The deceased had to be removed from the Mini Cooper by emergency personnel. As of the time of the initial investigation, Milledgeville police had not determined if weather conditions had contributed to the crash.

Our prayers and thoughts go out to the families.

The Mini Cooper is one of the smallest cars in production today. The rear knee room is exactly zero (0) inches if the front seat is pushed all the way back. It can come equipped with a ragtop or hardtop. The Atlanta Journal Constitution article is silent as to whether the MINI Cooper involved in the crash was a hardtop. The weight of the MINI Cooper is about 3500 lbs. By contrast, the weight of a Chevrolet Tahoe is about 7500 lbs.

You may wonder why the specs of the vehicles matter. I’ll tell you. Last fall, I spoke to an established accident reconstruction expert at a seminar in Savannah, Georgia. This expert was a former police officer and had investigated hundreds if not thousands of motor vehicle wrecks. Knowing that he was an expert in the crashworthiness of various vehicles and that I handle auto collisions, I asked him what type of car he drove and why. The answer he provided was succinct and enlightening. In his opinion, a motorist should buy the biggest and more importantly, the heaviest vehicle he/she can afford. In his experience, in a matchup collision between a heavy vehicle and a lighter vehicle, the heavier vehicle generally sustained less property damage and bodily injury to its occupants irrespective of which driver was at fault. For those who are curious, he drove a heavy duty truck.

I see the modern small (compact, subcompact, microcars) cars like the MINI Cooper, Toyota Yaris and the Smart car on the roads today in Georgia and I am genuinely worried about the relative crashworthiness of these vehicles as compared to heavy duty trucks. For instance, in the Smart car, there appears to be very little distance between the rear of the vehicle and the driver’s seat. In a rear end collision with a modern small car, the energy from the rear vehicle would transfer energy and force very quickly to the driver in the front vehicle which could cause catastrophic consequences.

If I am a parent that is looking for a safe vehicle for my son or daughter, you can best be sure that I would buy the heaviest and largest vehicle I could afford. I could care less if it stylish, modern or cute. My main concern would be the safety of my teenage son or daughter. After having worked in the field of personal injury litigation for over twenty years, I have seen horrible and permanent injuries, including death from motor vehicle collisions. For me, I fully accept the experience and wisdom of the accident reconstruction expert. I am not sure if the outcome in this incident with the four college students would have been different – but I believe they would have had a better chance of survival in a heavier larger vehicle . For further resources on safety reviews and specifications of vehicles, including weight, please visit Edmunds. Another great resource would be Consumer Reports.

The Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford has handled car accidents for over 20 years. Let us put that experience to work for you. We are currently accepting auto collision cases throughout Georgia. If you or a loved on has been injured as a result of a vehicle crash, then please contact an experienced personal injury attorney today for a free consultation.