Driver who killed 5 in truck crash receives short sentence: Part I

We have previously written that when a negligent driver takes the lives of other motorists on the road, criminal justice alone is often insufficient. Families who have lost their loved ones deserve more closure and more compensation from the at-fault driver than a criminal sentence can provide.

The recent sentencing of a truck driver who killed five people in a fatal truck acciden thighlights the shortcomings of our criminal justice system. While the accident didn’t happen here in Chicago, it is reminiscent of similar accidents we see each year.

On a night in October 2010, a 48-year-old truck driver slammed his 18-wheeler into a line of stopped cars on the interstate in North Carolina. Investigators and witnesses said that before the crash, the trucker was driving erratically, swerving, and did not even attempt to slow down before he crashed into nine vehicles and a highway guardrail.

Because the driver had no drugs or alcohol in his system, evidence of his driving behaviors suggested that he had fallen asleep at the wheel. His negligence ultimately claimed the lives of five people; three of whom were young adults in their twenties.

The truck driver pleaded guilty to several counts of involuntary manslaughter, as well as one count each of holding an improper medical certificate and having falsified records. The defendant had been falsifying his driving log, which suggests that he had not been consistently taking legally required rest breaks.

Earlier this month, the driver was sentenced. Under the sentencing guidelines, he could have been sentenced to more than 12 years in prison. Instead, he received less than five years; a sentence which the families of the victims have called a “miscarriage of justice.”

Please check back later this week as we continue our discussion.

Source:, “Tearful family members object to Velkov’s sentence,” Emily Weaver, Mar. 8, 2013