More than a year after a crash that claimed the life of a 29-year-old Pennsylvania man, a Mantee, Mississippi, truck driver has been charged with multiple offenses including involuntary manslaughter. The chain-reaction crash occurred in Decemember 2017 on Route 28 in O’Hara, Pennsylvania.
The 70-year-old man, who reportedly worked as a truck driver for many years, traveled from Mississippi to Pennsylvania to turn himself in to authorities. He was released after posting bond.
The tractor-trailer the Mississippi man was driving rear-ended the car being driven by the man who was killed. He, in turn, crashed into the vehicle ahead of him.
The truck driver reportedly told authorities investigating the crash that he was preparing to merge into another lane and didn’t notice that traffic in his lane had stopped. By the time he did, he said it was too late to avoid hitting the man’s car — a Ford Mustang.
However, investigators who reconstructed the crash determined that the truck driver had enough room to stop after he says he saw the cars stopped ahead of him. Nonetheless, he didn’t apply his brakes until it was too late.
The driver of the Mustang was taken to the hospital. However, he succumbed to his injuries two days later.
The man’s attorney said that he hasn’t yet been given the reconstruction report so that he can provide it to an expert for review. He said, “I think this is a basic car accident. I’m shocked that this was charged criminally. I think this is solely a civil matter.”
It’s up to law enforcement authorities to determine whether a driver’s actions rise to the level of criminality. Certainly, criminal charges can help surviving family members seek compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit. However, even if no criminal charges are brought (or regardless of the outcome of a criminal case), they have a right to hold an at-fault driver liable in civil court.