Maine Trucking Firm with Driver Facing Manslaughter Charges has Questionable Safety Record
On Friday, March 18, 2016, a fatal truck crash involving a commercial truck and three other vehicles occurred. The crash occurred on Route 17 in Washington, Maine. The accident involved a flatbed truck that was hauling lumber. The flatbed truck overturned when navigating a particularly infamous curve on Route 17. The commercial truck accident caused two deaths. Christina Torres of York, Maine was killed due to blunt force trauma to the chest. The crash also claimed the life of 74-year-old Paul Fowles of Owls Head, Maine.
Additional Vehicle Crashes on Route 17 in Maine
Less than a year ago, a similar crash occurred on this same curve. Here, a flatbed truck that was carrying snowplows crashed. This crash was attributed to driver error by police. Police stated that the commercial driver simply missed the curve, proceeded across the double yellow divider and into a field where it overturned. In this accident, there were no injuries and only the driver suffered non life- threatening injuries. Unfortunately, these are far from the only accidents that have occurred on this curve on Route 17.
Flatbed trucks aren’t the only vehicles that seem to have issues navigating this particular stretch of Route 17 by the intersection of Fitch Road in Washington. One recent accident occurred in April 2015. Here, a driver lost control of his car on the curve and clipped another vehicle before careening off of the road. The other vehicle was hit in such a way that it flipped and came to rest on its roof. One person was hospitalized due to this collision.
The second recent accident on this stretch of road actually occurred less than 24 hours after the fatal crash in March. Here, the cause of the crash is not yet known, but at least one injury occurred.
Safety Record of Firm Involved in Latest Crash Complicates Analysis regarding Road Safety
An investigation by the Bangor Daily News has revealed that the safety record of the Tennessee trucking company involved in this accident has a checkered safety record. R&E Logistics Inc. hired operator Randall Junior Weddle in September 2015. Unfortunately, this hiring apparently occurred without the necessary background checks and due diligence occurring. The Bangor Daily News recently informed the owner of the Trucking company that the driver was hired despite his license being suspended in Louisiana and revoked in Virginia. The owner stated that he was unaware of this fact.
Aside from this fact, the company itself has a higher than average number of safety incidents. According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) data, roughly 21 percent of inspections by federal regulators and law enforcement result in the vehicle being placed in out of service status. For, R&E logistics, the rate is approximately double. After inspection, nearly 43% of its trucks were taken out of service due to maintenance and safety problems. Furthermore, the out of service orders for the company’s drivers nearly trebled the national rate of 5.5% at 15.4% of inspections.
Driver Was Under the Influence of Alcohol and Possibly Prescription Drugs at the Time of the Accident
At the time of the accident, police officers detected the presence of alcohol on Weddle’s person and therefore carried out sobriety testing. A blood sample was taken at the scene of the accident and tested by medical personnel returned a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.09. A test taken approximately one hour later at the Central Maine Medical Center returned a BAC of 0.073. Under federal law, a commercial truck driver is considered under the influence of alcohol when his or her BAC is measured at 0.04 or greater. A police report also indicates that Weddle had hydrocodone in his system, however, it is unclear as to whether he was actively under the influence of the drug or if the police had only detected metabolites.
According to data downloaded from the truck’s engine control module and eyewitness accounts the commercial driver was driving in excess of the speed limit of 55 miles an hour prior to the crash. The downloaded data indicated that Weddle was traveling at 81 miles an hour before the crash and 73 miles an hour when the crash occurred on the curve. An unidentified eyewitness indicated that he was driving about 60 miles an hour behind the truck and stated that the vehicle left him behind quickly.
Injured in an Accident? Call a Truck Accident LAwyer You Can Trust
If you have been injured in a serious trucking accident, the lawyers of Reiff Law Firm’s The Truck Accident Team may be able to fight for you. If a loved one was wrongfully killed due to trucking safety violations or other problems we may also be able to fight for your family. To schedule a free and confidential legal consultation call (215) 246-9000 today.