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Los Angeles County trucker gets 4-year term for double fatality

Any driver on the road too long gets tired. Fatigue robs commercial truck drivers of the ability to respond quickly in challenging traffic situations. Drivers sometimes push themselves to drive long hours with the encouragement of employers, who are more interested in meeting profitable deadlines than safety.

A Los Angeles County truck driver was ordered to prison for four years following a March 2013 truck crash that killed two men. The victims were among drivers waiting for a red light to change along a Midwestern highway. Investigators said the convicted driver never tried to slow down before his truck crashed into the stopped vehicles.

The semi-truck slammed into the victims' cars – drivers in separate vehicles positioned behind another tractor-trailer. The 18-wheeler's computer recorded speeds of up to 59 mph at the time of the collision; the brakes were not applied. A state trooper testified the accused man's truck had tire and brake problems but could not confirm whether those issues related to the crash.

Investigators did find out the truck driver had been on the road more than 70 hours during the week leading up to the double fatal accident. The defendant's trucking log also contained false entries. A California trucking company was listed as the vehicle owner; another company leased the truck.

The 32-year-old Alhambra defendant entered a guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter. The prison term the man received fell halfway between the defense attorney's request for a one-year term and the prosecutor's recommendation for a 7-year sentence. The defendant also was named in civil lawsuits, along with the trucking firm.

A complaint brought by family members of one victim was dismissed. A second claim filed by the other decedent's relatives, a wrongful death lawsuit, is moving forward. An attorney's involvement in a victim's truck accident case should occur as quickly as possible, since evidence accumulation and claim assessment are time sensitive jobs.

Source: Springfield News-Leader, "Man guilty in semi crash that killed two near Republic" Stephen Herzog, May. 10, 201 

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