Marine’s Death Involving Guardrail End under Investigation

Marine’s Death Involving Guardrail End under Investigation

BALTIMORE (WBFF)-- Michael Carter couldn’t wait to be a Marine. In October, the 18-year-old became one.

“He chose the toughest branch because he liked the challenge,” Carter’s mother, Sandra Johnson said.

On the morning of February 7th, Carter was driving on Route 13 in Somerset County, Maryland to work at a recruiting office, when his car veered off the road and struck a guardrail.

Michael hit a guardrail end, the same type of guardrail end 17-year-old Hannah Eimers hit in Tennessee when her car went off the road.

It’s the X-LITE guardrail end made by Lindsay Corporation, designed to collapse in on itself, cushioning a collision by any car that hits it.

Hannah’s father is suing Lindsay, claiming the X-LITE is defective. In total, Fox45 knows of five lawsuits filed against Lindsay over the X-LITE.

Tennessee’s Department of Transportation says the X-LITE functioned properly in Hannah Eimers’ crash. Still, a week before her crash, Tennessee stopped installing the X-LITE because of concerns over unclear installation instructions. The state is now one of eleven removing the X-LITE from its roads. Maryland, with 987 X-LITES on its roads, is not one of those states.

When Fox45/WBFF asked Maryland’s State Highway Administration why it won’t remove them, Deputy Director of Communications John Schofield said, ”Well, we are working extremely hard with our federal partners and with our transportation partners in other states to make the best decisions we can, in the interest of safety of all Marylanders.”

Maryland State Police continue its investigation into Michael’s crash. It has not been determined what role, if any, the X-LITE played. Depending on the outcome of that investigation, Carter’s family may file suit against Lindsay.

While Lindsay Corporation denied Fox45’s/WBFF request for an on-camera interview, it released a statement that reads in part:

A variety of factors contribute to the potential for injury when a driver fails to stay on the road, including speed, the angle at which a vehicle makes an impact, and whether road safety equipment is installed and maintained properly.

“So to just point to the X-LITE, I think is professionally irresponsible for me to even single it out. Because there are a myriad of factors that go into a crash,” Schofield said.

Maryland has stopped installing the X-LITE, citing new federal crash test standards the X-LITE guardrail end now doesn’t meet. New guardrail end standards put in place to accommodate larger vehicles on American highways.

For the family of a fallen Marine, the fact Maryland has stopped installing the X-LITE is reason enough to remove them.

“And maybe that will save someone else’s life because it could happen again,” Johnson said.

Michael Carter was buried in Arlington on February 22nd.

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