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Man Dies After Hydroplaning Car Strikes Him

On Thursday, September 12, a man who was cutting the lawn outside a church was killed by a vehicle that lost control due to slick roads and crashed into him.

The car was driving on Highway 94 when it lost control, hydroplaning, flipping over multiple times, and striking the man.

Valente T. Zapata, 59, was an employee of T.J.’s Lawn Services & Landscaping. He worked for the landscaping company since 2008. Zapata was the sole provider for his family who are still living in Mexico. Zapata came to the U.S. on a work visa and has been sending money home regularly to support his family. According to Carie Brown, wife of the owner of the landscaping company, Zapata was a very kind man. Brown said that Zapata always worked hard and never complained.

The accident happened in the Orchard Farm area at 4795 North Highway 94 near Trinity Lutheran Church around 7:30 a.m. Laurel Schneck, 48, of St. Charles was traveling south on Highway 94. She was driving her 2002 Mitsubishi Lancer around a curve when it began to spin out of control. She lost control completely and the car drove off of the highway, striking an embankment, and flipped over multiple times.

Zapata was working on a lawn close to the church’s parking lot and as the car flipped it struck him. He was killed at the scene, according to Sgt. Al Nothum of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Schneck was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. She needed to be cut out of her vehicle by firefighters who arrived at the scene before she could be transported to the hospital. She was treated for minor injuries.

It was determined that the vehicle hydroplaned on the slick roadway. There had been a very brief rain shower in St. Charles County just before the crash.

Reverend Doug Gaunt had never met Zapata but he confirmed that the curve in front of the church can be very dangerous. “We’ve had numerous crashes there over the years,” he said. “In my first 10 or 20 years here, I’d see maybe a dozen a year.”

There has been work done on the area in an attempt to reduce the number of accidents. Widening the road and restructuring the ditch have helped somewhat, but Gaunt says that even so, multiple crashes occur annually. After two brothers died in an accident on Highway 94 in 2004, the state began a project to make the road safer. That accident was also caused by wet roads and the brothers’ car ended up losing control and colliding with a pickup truck. In 2006 the state began widening the road.

But drivers should still be careful. You do not need to be speeding in this stretch of the road to get into an accident. If the roads are wet, as you are heading around the curve, you could easily lose control, as many others have done.

St. Louis Auto Accident Attorney

Taking weather conditions into consideration is something that all drivers should do. Even if there is no downpour currently going on, remembering that a little dampness on the road could drastically change driving conditions is crucial.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, contact The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. to discuss your options.

Call us today at (314) 361-4242 or contact us online.

Updated: February 8, 2018