Families of 3 killed in crashes involving controversial guardrail file lawsuits

WASHINGTON — The families of three people killed in crashes last year involving a controversial type of guardrail filed lawsuits Wednesday in Tennessee.

In one case, dashcam footage shows a red SUV that Wilbert Byrd was riding in slamming into an X-Lite guardrail in Tennessee. Instead of collapsing backward, the guardrail splinters and sends metal ripping through the vehicle, killing the 69-year-old driver.

Byrd’s death is one of at least seven in three states linked to X-Lite guardrails.

Ladeana Gambill and daughter Lauren.

CBS News

Ladeana Gambill’s daughter Lauren and her friend, Jacob Davison, died one year ago this week after their vehicle hit an X-Lite guardrail that pierced the car.

“Losing a child is just the most horrific thing that anyone can imagine,” Gambill told CBS News.

“To think that she died senselessly — that’s why we want to bring awareness to this issue,” Gambill said, “So that other folks don’t lose their children in this manner.”

Video from Lindsay Transportation Systems, which makes the X-Lite guardrail, shows how it’s supposed to work, telescoping backward to help absorb an impact.

Instead, the Tennessee Department of Transportation found in some high-speed crashes that the first section of rail can separate, allowing the next section to potentially spear a vehicle.

The state sent a letter to federal regulators expressing concerns about the device, and is spending millions to remove all 1,800 of them from Tennessee roads.

Most are in these seven states: West Virginia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Maryland, Texas, North Carolina and Virginia.

A look at X-Lite guardrail deaths across three states.

CBS News

“Unfortunately because of the design defects that’s in this system, it is causing just horrendous damage and deaths,” Gambill’s attorney, Ted Leopold, said.

Federal regulators say nine states have stopped buying or started replacing the devices.

Lindsay Transportation Solutions, which manufactures the X-Lite guardrail, released a statement to CBS News saying the claims are “without merit” and that “X-Lite has successfully passed crash and safety tests in accordance with federal standards.” The statement says: 

“For Lindsay Transportation Solutions, providing products that save lives is our top priority. Any allegations questioning the safety of…

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