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Randy Appleton
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FMCSA Declares Van Driver in Fatal Crash Is ‘Imminent Hazard Public Safety

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caroline-crash-6-18-16Two months ago, our Virginia personal injury firm reported on a grisly Carolina County car crash that killed six people. The fatal auto accident occurred on I-95 northbound, on June 18th, at around midnight. A 50-year-old Chicago man was transporting 15 passengers in a 1998 Dodge van when he suddenly ran the vehicle off to the left-side of the road, jerked the vehicle back onto the highway and crossed over two lanes. As he drove over the two lanes, he crashed into a Toyota Camry. The impact caused the Camry to spin out of control.

The van continued to drive towards the right-hand side of the road before the driver attempted to correct the vehicle’s direction. This caused the van to roll over several times. A 5-year-old child and four adults were all ejected from the van as it turned over and over. All six victims were pronounced dead at the scene.

The other nine passengers were all transported to area hospitals with serious injuries. The driver of the Camry was uninjured. The van’s driver was also transported to the hospital for treatment of injuries he sustained in the deadly crash. He has been charged with six counts of involuntary manslaughter and reckless driving. At the time of the accident, police suspected driver fatigue as the cause of the crash.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it has declared the driver of the van, as well as his son, “to each be an imminent hazard to public safety, individually and as a passenger motor carrier, and has ordered both not to operate any commercial motor vehicle in interstate or intrastate commerce.”

According to the FMCSA, neither of the men possesses a commercial driver’s licenses (CDL), however, they have been illegally operating a passenger motor carrier. Records show that the men have operated their passenger motor carrier company intrastate, including in Virginia and North Carolina.

Investigation of the fatal accident revealed that the driver was transporting the group from New Jersey to North Carolina in an uninsured vehicle. The back seat belts of the van had all been disabled, and this is why the six victims who were killed in the crash were all ejected. None of those victims, including the child, were restrained.

In its declaration to both men, the FMCSA wrote that their, “… blatant disregard of (federal safety regulations) resulted in a multi-fatality accident on June 18, 2016 while you were transporting 16 passengers in interstate commerce from North Carolina to New Jersey.”

One of the main roles of the FMCSA is to ensure that all motor carriers adhere to federal regulations, including the number of hours a driver is allowed to drive, as well as making sure unsafe and dangerous vehicles are kept off the road. The defendant in this case demonstrated a blatant disregard to not only those federal regulations but also to the safety of his passengers, leaving six families to grieve the loss of their loved ones. Even though the driver is facing multiple criminal charges, the families should consult with a skilled Virginia wrongful death attorney to find out what other legal recourse they may have.

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