A missing part of $ 3 could have resulted in the death of a Forest Lake student

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NEW ORLEANS – The absence of a $ 3 coin might have left tires falling off a tractor-trailer, killing a student of Tulane University of Minnesota, said a Mississippi transport official. A trucking company attorney said, "I think they can be wrong."

Willie Huff, director of the ministry's enforcement office, told New Orleans lawyer that one of the two 3-inch lock washers designed to keep the truck wheels securely attached to the trailer was missing.

On March 5th, two joined wheels formed a resting area, killing Margaret Maurer from Forest Lake. Maurer, 21, and his classmates were heading from Mardi Gras in New Orleans to a cottage in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. A senior Tulane, Maurer had to graduate in May with a degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

The conclusion regarding the missing metal ring is still preliminary, said Huff.

Gene Patten, vice president of safety and compliance truck owner, Dana Transport Inc. of Avenel, NJ, told The Associated Press that he could comment on the report of the newspaper, adding, "They based it on the information they have. . The story is always richer. "

The company's lawyer, J. Burruss "Buzzy" Riis, of Mobile, Alabama, said: "The lawyer has made some rather bold statements that … we are still investigating. I do not think they will necessarily end up being accurate. "

Maurer's family has "our extreme sadness and condolences and she participates in our prayers," he said.

Huff said that when the inspectors unpacked the outer hub of the wheel set after Maurer's death, they found only one of the two washers used to lock the large nuts holding the wheels in place. The missing ring would not have been broken, he said.

In addition to Dana Transport, the truck is listed under a related company, Suttles Truck Leasing of Demopolis, Ala.

Both companies are in good standing with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, with "satisfactory" ratings and an above-average crash and vehicle safety record.

Huff said that the missing ring would not have been detected in the type of unannounced inspections carried out at the roadside and recorded in the federal database.

"To inspect this truck for this defect, you must remove all the wheels from the truck," he said.

"It's also something that probably would not be noticed during an inspection before departure or on the road, unless the wheel falters," he said. "More than likely, this wheel has not moved. He just slipped. "