A Massachusetts state trooper pulled the brakes on a potentially deadly commercial truck last weekend as it drove down the Massachusetts Turnpike on a half-loose wheel in West Stockbridge, police said.
“Lucky we caught it before that makeshift attachment to the axle failed and the wheel flew off and killed a motorist,” the Massachusetts State Police wrote on social media attached to an image of the wheel. “Stupid and frightening.”
The image shows a badly damaged wheel with only four of eight lugs attached – and half of the hub’s studs broken off completely.
Trooper James Talbot from the Massachusetts State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Section pulled the vehicle over, ordered it taken out of service and issued a citation, according to authorities.
Improperly attached wheels create road hazards for both the driver of the vehicle and other people in the vicinity.
A vehicle is at risk of swerving out of control or overturning when it loses a wheel, according to AAA. That could result in a tractor-trailer spilling whatever it’s carrying – including hazardous materials – all over the road.
And loose wheels could strike other vehicles or pedestrians, AAA told Fox News.
That can have deadly results.
Last year, a pair of wheels broke loose from a logging truck on Interstate 95 in Maine and one of them fatally struck a 31-year-old state trooper, according to state police there.
Detective Benjamin Campbell was assisting a disabled vehicle in Hampden at the time. He was a nine-year police veteran and married father of a 6-month-old son.
Wheels breaking off of passenger vehicles can be just as dangerous.
In December, police arrested a Georgia man after a tire flew off his Dodge Ram and fatally hit a young woman in the head while she was walking her dog, according to the New York Post.
Kimberly Touchton, 22, was found badly injured by her fiancé near Georgia State Route 49 and Highway 11.
“It severed her spine,” Houston County Sheriff’s Lt. Kent Bankston told the paper at the time. “It broke her neck, and although they did attempt life-saving measures out there on the scene, she was dead when they got to the hospital. I don’t think she even knew what hit her.”
Bankston told the outlet that police arrested the alleged driver a quarter-mile away – where they found his vehicle on the side of the road, missing a wheel.