An Indiana truck driver charged in a 2014 crash that killed five people pleaded guilty to five counts of reckless homicide and one count of falsifying his driving log. He faces six to 28 years in prison, but prosecutors have agreed to seek no more than a 15-year sentence.
On July 21, 2014, the truck driver entered a construction zone where traffic had slowed to 3 – 5 miles per hour. The trucker, however, had set his cruise control and was driving 65 mph when he entered the area, causing a chain-reaction crash that killed four people, including an 11-year-old girl. Four others (a woman and her three teens) were hospitalized with injuries.
Two lawsuits filed by families of the victims are pending in federal court. The lawsuits name the truck driver as well as Steel Warehouse, the company for which the trucker was hauling freight, and Eagle Transport, the company which leased him the semitrailer he was driving. The suits allege that the trucker was speeding through a construction zone, failed to keep a proper lookout for slowing or stopped vehicles, failed to slow down when a special hazard existed and had a physical condition — complete loss of vision in his right eye due to a 1984 injury — that limited his ability to drive safely. The plaintiffs also allege that he altered his driving log to make it appear as if he started work later in the day than he actually did. According to investigators, the truck driver began his workday at 2:30 a.m. when he picked up a load of steel at a warehouse in South Bend, Ind. His log book, however, showed he started at 6:15 a.m. Under federal law, commercial truck drivers are limited to working 14 hours a day, including a maximum of 11 behind the wheel. A hearing date is set for December 6.
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