Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Union Crash Lawsuit Joins Dozens; the Trucking Firm Has Been Sued in Injury Cases 84 Times since 1996

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Union Crash Lawsuit Joins Dozens; the Trucking Firm Has Been Sued in Injury Cases 84 Times since 1996

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL PINKHAM

A lawsuit filed this week in a fiery Union County crash that killed seven children is one of dozens filed across the country against the company whose truck was involved in the wreck.

Amanda Lee Scott, the mother of 14-year-old Ashley Keen and 10-year-old Miranda Finn, filed the wrongful death lawsuit Wednesday in Lake Butler against Nebraska-based Crete Carrier Corp. and truck driver Alvin Wilkerson of Jacksonville.

The lawsuit accuses Wilkerson, 31, of violating federal trucking regulations by being awake 34 hours and says Crete didn't adequately supervise its driver. Scott's lawyers also demanded from Crete numerous records related to Wilkerson's employment and testing, phone use and driving history and the company's safety ratings, insurance and vehicle inspections.

"We filed this lawsuit . . . in an effort to answer how and why this accident occurred," said attorney Lance Avera of Gainesville.

Ashley and Miranda died Jan. 25 when the van they were in was struck from behind by Wilkerson's truck while stopped behind a school bus on Florida 121 south of Lake Butler. Also killed were their cousins, Nikki and Elizabeth Mann, both 15; Johnny Mann, 13; Heaven Mann, 3; and Anthony Lamb, 20 months. Several children on the bus were injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Wilkerson was awake 34 hours when the wreck occurred. He hasn't been charged in the accident, and authorities haven't said whether he violated a restriction that he not drive more than 15 consecutive hours.

Wilkerson's lawyer declined to comment, and Crete Executive Vice President Jack Peetz said he was unaware of the lawsuit and couldn't discuss it.

"With as many trucks as we have on the road, our safety record is among the best in the business," Peetz said.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Crete trucks have been involved in 481 crashes the past two years, 18 of them fatal and 195 involving injuries. …

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