Tractor Trailer Driver Charged with Manslaughter in Child’s Death

The driver operating a tractor trailer in Gaston, North Carolina last June 17 that hit a box truck and killed a 10 year old boy is now facing serious charges.

The truck driver, who was previously accused of misdemeanor death by vehicle, has had his charge upgraded to felony involuntary manslaughter. The 44 year old from Florida was served an indictment last week and was released on bond.

Lawsuit leads to $939,000 settlement.

The tractor trailer driver was behind the wheel of a Werner Enterprises truck last June when it was hit in the rear by the box truck. A local sixth grader in Gaston died in the truck crash.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol found that the truck driver unintentionally caused the death by making unsafe movements and impeding traffic on I-85 south at the Edgewood Road exit. The truck driver told the media that he had pulled off the road to make a phone call, and when he pulled into the right lane, he was hit in the rear by the box truck.

The driver pulled back over onto the shoulder and called 911. He discovered the boy was pinned into the back seat of the truck. Paramedics tried to do CPR on him but he died at the hospital.

The truck driver was given a $1 million bond originally, but that was reduced to $15,000. He is an immigrant from Jamaica and there was concern that he would flee the country. However, his lawyers stated that the driver could be tracked by the GPS system in his truck. He was however ordered to give up his passport and had to provide his fingerprints and a DNA sample.

Our View

Our tractor trailer crash personal injury attorneys are sad to hear that a child lost his life in this preventable tractor trailer crash. At least 3,800 tractor trailer crashes resulting in death occur each year, and most of the deaths are in passenger vehicles.  According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA, inadequete surveillance is a common cause of truck crashes. This occurs where the truck driver is required to look to complete a maneuver safely but does not look, or simply fails to see the danger.

This is most common when a truck changes lanes or when merging into traffic. The agency’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study found that 14% of large truck accidents happened when the truck driver did not practice adequate surveillance.

The FMCSA cautions truck drivers to check their mirrors carefully and often at all times, and this is especially important when merging back into traffic from a stop. The agency recommends checking mirrors at least every five to eight seconds when changing lanes, turning or merging.

Serious tractor trailer crashes frequently result in serious personal injury or death, and we hope that more truck drivers will use caution when they are merging into traffic. These types of deadly truck crashes often lead the surviving family to file a wrongful death lawsuit that can lead to a settlement in the millions of dollars.