The parents of Chelsee Cherry-Holmes state that a ball joint on the truck broke due to a defective design, which led to Fultz losing control of the truck. This ball joint was later recalled on various vehicles manufactured by DailmlerChrysler, including the Dodge Dakota models of trucks.
Attorneys state that had Fultz received the recall letter regarding the details of the defective part prior to the crash ever taking place, there would have never been a collision and Chelsee's life would not have ended so abruptly. Fultz's attorney is in agreement and has publicly stated that the crash was caused by the breaking away of the right front tire, which caused the October 1, 2003 crash in Franklin County on Highway O.
As for the details that led to the tragic accident, Fultz hit the Volvo that was driven by Joshua Bessinger, 19, head on. Bessinger, along with his two passengers, Matthew Carter, 20, and Chelsee Cherry-Holmes were all instantly killed. Fultz was seriously injured and was flown to St. John's Mercy Medical Center by helicopter. Fultz's injuries were considered crippling.
However, DaimlerChrysler argues that it was not the defective part, but Fultz's negligence that was the cause of the crash. The claim of negligence by DaimlerChrysler is based upon information received regarding statements that Fultz made to police.
Fultz admitted to police that he had taken two different kinds of pain pills at three different times that day. He didn't immediately disclose to police that a tire detached from his truck. He didn't provide such information until after the recall letter was received by him.
The drugs that were determined to be in Fultz's system were Zanax and Oxycontin, each taken three times in the course of the day. A toxicology report expert engaged by Chrysler stated that Fultz's ability to operate a motor vehicle would have been significantly impaired due to the power of such a drug cocktail.
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Chrysler stated that notes by the mechanics said that the ball joints were in good condition, so there was no way that a deterioration of the ball joints could have occurred in just two weeks time or at least enough to cause a wheel to fall off. The experts with the company who examined the ball joints are expected to testify in the case that the ball joints showed no deterioration after the crash. Due to the good condition of the ball joints, they would have not qualified as part of DaimlerChrysler's recall.
Over a dozen witnesses are expected to testify in the case that is expected to last for approximately two weeks.
By Ginger Gillenwater