Runaway Wheel Strikes Officer

January 4, 2012

A Highway Patrol Motor Officer observed 2 vehicles side by side at a high rate. The officer pursued these vehicles and was able to stop both vehicles on the right shoulder of the roadway.

While standing next to his motorcycle writing citations, a tow truck towing a passenger car in reverse down the roadway was approaching the officer's location. As the tow truck approached, the left front wheel and tire assembly separated from the towed vehicle and struck the officer on his left leg. This impact severely fractured the officer's leg.

A thorough investigation revealed that a universal adapter had been mounted on the wheels and hub to make the wheels fit the Mustang. Universal adapters have numerous lug nut holes on them which allow wheels to fit numerous types of vehicles instead of one specific vehicle. Half of the adapter is mounted to the wheel with the other half to the vehicle's hub. Each half is then basically screwed together with a 3 1/4 inch conical shaped threaded shaft.

The shaft is threaded so that as long as the vehicle is rolling forward the shaft tightens or torques. If the vehicle rolls in reverse too far the shaft can unscrew, causing the wheel to separate from the vehicle. This is what occurred in this case as the vehicle was being towed in reverse.

The case successfully concluded with a confidential settlement.