On May 25, 1994, our wonderful daughter Stacey Balascio was killed in an underride crash when the vehicle she was a passenger in hit the rear of an illegally parked semi truck in San Diego, Ca., in the dark of night. Stacey lived about 45 minutes struggling to hold on to her life when she really didn’t have a chance of surviving. The truck driver didn’t bother to put out reflective triangles or use his flashers to warn oncoming motorists as required by law. The truck driver and the trucking company refused to take responsibility for this terrible so-called accident that happens over 1000 times a year and needlessly kills around 500 people a year. The truck driver said he would do the exact same thing over again, showing no remorse for the death of our daughter. The owner of the trucking company didn’t even show up for trial.
Mike and Stacey were trapped and couldn’t have avoided this so-called accident. It all starts when certain elements come together to make this a Trap. The first thing that happens is the manufacturer builds a trailer that shouldn’t be allowed on the road in the first place because of the underride hazard it possesses that threatens all motorists on the roadway. Next, the trucking company that purchases it fails to have reflective tape and a safe underride guard put on it. Then the truck driver takes it and parks it on a dark street and fails to use his flashers, or to put out reflective triangles to warn oncoming motorists of this terrible hazard that has plagued so many people so many times before. You see most semi trucks have a tendency to blend into the night and stick out 3 to 4 feet more than most other parked vehicles. That creates the trap and a hazard to the oncoming motorist that is difficult to see and is why they are required to put out triangles when they are parked.This is not a so-called accident anymore, this is a Death Trap. It is high time after 45 years and thousands of deaths that it is called what it really is. When someone gets caught in this trap you cannot blame the person who is fooled by it and becomes its victim.
This is a Death Trap and they blamed the car driver, Stacey’s fiance Mike, for this so-called accident. This has been going on since before he was born. Mike didn’t see the semi in the dark until the last second. There was not enough time for him to apply his brakes.The judge would not allow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regs in as evidence. He wouldn’t even let California vehicle codes in as evidence to show the jury what they did wrong. The judge even went so far as to not let the jury know that the semi was illegally parked until after they had brought back the verdict when a juror asked the judge if the semi was legally parked or not. This is the kind of justice system we have in California today. I ask how can a jury system work when all the evidence against someone is allowed to be blocked out by the judge? We were further outraged by the judge giving the truck driver and the trucking company that killed our daughter a judgment against us for almost 94,000 dollars. They also got a judgment against Mike for around $72,000. All of this when they had 2 Million dollars of insurance. They kill our loved ones, then they use their insurance company to obtain a judgment from the survivors of the person they killed? Is this just me or does anybody else see what is wrong here? Needless to say, we have appealed this verdict! We are in the process of asking the system to right this wrong today because there is something very wrong with this situation here. This shouldn’t have to happen to anyone!
We have asked ourselves over and over why this had to happen to our wonderful daughter, Stacey? There is no good reason for this. Stacey was an honor student who had just completed her studies to become an aerospace engineer at San Diego State University. She was due to graduate just three days after she was killed in this senseless ‘so-called accident.’ She had over 100 hours of community service with her girl scout troop. She was never in trouble a day in her life and was always trying to make life better for someone else. We had done everything right in keeping our daughter Stacey safe, or so it would appear, except for the one thing we couldn’t see coming. We didn’t know anything about this terrible problem with the semi trucks trapping people into this situation that has been going on for so many years.
UPDATE: On July 14,2000 we learned that the Fourth District Court of Appeals in Calif. reversed the decision of the earlier court that disallowed FMCSR 392.22 to come in as evidence and erred by not giving negligence per se instructions to the jury on the same.
The order stated “We hold that the trial court erred in refusing to give the jury a negligence per se instruction based on FMCSR section 392.22.” And concluded “We agree with the Balascios’ first contention and conclude this error requires reversal of judgment.”
They also stated that other evidence, that was kept out, was admissible as well namely the Idaho CDL Manual and the Company’s Safety Manual. So you see, the California Appeals Court did right this wrong as we had asked them to do!
We hope that this will encourage others to join us and help stop this from happening to others like Stacey. Our sincere thanks go out to those of you who have helped in the past. Won’t you please join us too?
Sincerely Albert and Judy Balascio