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VAN CRASH NO SHOCK IN INDUSTRY

Madison Capital Times; Madison, Wis.; Apr 6, 1999;


Abstract:

A highway crash that claimed seven lives was not unusual in a business that recruits young people to travel from town to town, selling magazine subscriptions, observers say. "This was not a fluke accident," said Darlene Adkins of the National Consumers League. "There's a history of accidents. It's one of the central safety issues" in the traveling-sales industry.

"It's like a repeat," Ron Turner of the Iowa State Patrol said, recalling an I-80 crash seven years ago in Iowa when a van overturned, killing five magazine sellers and injuring six others.

Full Text:
Copyright Madison Capital Times Apr 6, 1999


A highway crash that claimed seven lives was not unusual in a business that recruits young people to travel from town to town, selling magazine subscriptions, observers say.

"This was not a fluke accident," said Darlene Adkins of the National Consumers League. "There's a history of accidents. It's one of the central safety issues" in the traveling-sales industry.

The seven people who died March 25th on Interstate 90 near Janesville were among 14 van occupants, some of them as young as 15 and 16. They worked for a subsidiary of an Oklahoma company that sells magazines, investigators said.

"It's like a repeat," Ron Turner of the Iowa State Patrol said, recalling an I-80 crash seven years ago in Iowa when a van overturned, killing five magazine sellers and injuring six others.

Ben Bissell of Ohio cites the death in 1992 of his brother Kevin Bissell, who was celebrating his 28th birthday with a magazine-sales crew when their company car collided with a truck on I-90 near Madison. "He told us they gave him a fake driver's license to transport the other workers," Bissell said.

In last month's crash, police say high school dropout Jeremy Holmes, 20, of Clinton, Iowa, lacked a valid driver's license when the van he was driving overturned at about 80 mph while he tried to switch places with someone else.

The National Child Labor Coalition says incidents involving young people who work as sellers of magazines, candy and household goods include:

*Children ages 8 to 10 in Florida stranded hundreds of miles from home after failing to fulfill sales quotas.

*Children as young as 13 working in Michigan, where, in response to cold weather, they were instructed to pull plastic bags over their tennis shoes.

*Minors making sales in Utah were denied water, food and toilet privileges.

Adkins said her National Consumers League in Washington, D.C., wants action from publishers that have contracts with firms for processing subscriptions. "It's very hard to protect the kids," Adkins said. "These outfits move around and they are a nightmare to track down."

Two days prior to the Wisconsin crash, a 20-year-old man wanted in Texas on drug and assault charges was taken into custody at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, accused of selling magazines illegally. A police report says a student was bruised when she was pushed in an Oshkosh dormitory by another seller who was fleeing campus police.


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