Truck accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that a crash in Kentucky that killed six people was caused by the Highway Star trucking company. It was recently revealed that Highway Star accumulated at least 17 traffic violations in the two years before the accident.
Despite the violations, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) granted Highway Star a satisfactory rating during that two years period. The company even had a better-than-average rate of passing inspections. The 17 violations spanned factors such as speeding, failure to wear a seatbelt, improper lane changes, and following too closely. The federal government advised states, based on these violations, to inspect Highway Star vehicles more closely.
A spokesperson for the FMCSA stated that advisories of this type are meant as warnings, to notify inspectors when trucking company’s vehicles and drivers should be given closer inspection. The violations, however, do not require inspectors to do so. All inspectors at weigh stations, state troopers, and other state and federal authorities have access to these records.
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If inspections are conducted and show poor performance, officials can chose to taken the vehicle out of service. In nearly 60 inspections over those two years, 12 of Highway Star’s vehicles were taken off the road. Of almost 125 driver inspections, seven of the company’s hired drivers were removed from operation. Violations included more than 67 counts of unsafe driving, more than 60 reports of hours of service violations, and over 44 vehicle maintenance violations. Hours of service refers to the amount of time one driver has been driving continuously.
Inspections for drivers are done more frequently than for vehicles, and involve a wide range of criteria. Highway Star currently owns 35 vehicles, although the number of drivers it employs could not be determined.
On the day of the fatal crash, 47-year-old Ibraham Fetic of Michigan was driving a tractor-trailer on Interstate 65 in Kentucky. Fetic’s vehicle, which was owned by Highway Star, struck a Ford Expedition traveling north, killing the driver and his wife, their 18-year-old adoptive daughter, their two foster children, and their 92-year-old friend, Marion Chapnoise. The couple, James and Barbara Gollnow, were both 62, and from Pella, Wisconsin.
Fortunately, two other foster children who were in the car at the time survived, and were taken to nearby hospitals. One of the children, a 15-year-old girl, sustained burns and a broken spine, and the other, a 12-year-old boy, was taken to a Louisville children’s hospital for cuts on the back of his head. The members of the vehicle were returning home to Wisconsin from a vacation in Florida. Fetic was uninjured.
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Kentucky State Police Troopers stated that Fetic was driving too close to the Ford Expedition in the moments before the crash, which is one of the violations Highway Star was previously cited for. The crash also led to a four-vehicle collision on the opposite side of the Interstate, caused by drivers distracted by the wreckage.
The secondary crash, which occurred about 15 minutes after the first, involved the drummer for country music star Kellie Pickler. The drummer, Gregg Lohman, suffered head and neck injuries, and was taken to University of Louisville Hospital in serious condition.
The National Transportation Safety Board recently stated that it will cease investigations into the fatal crash, although the Kentucky State Police will continue in its own investigation. Preliminary reports show that Fetic was distracted at the time of the crash, and the results of his blood samples have yet to be released.
Accidents involving large trucks are extremely dangerous because of their size, weight, and freight. Many factors can contribute to crashes, including driver fatigue and distraction, rushing to meet deadlines, mechanical failure, overloading, and overwrought. Truck accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have decades of experience working with victims of large truck crashes and their families, and understand that the injuries can be catastrophic. If you or someone close to you was injured in an accident caused by the negligence of a large truck operator, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to compensation.