Truck driver accused in crash that killed 3: 'I am in agony'

Vic Ryckaert Indianapolis Star Published 5:00 PM EST Jan 6, 2020 The truck driver told police he was putting away a coffee cup on Sunday when he rammed into a line of slowing traffic on I-65 in Boone County and killed two women and a 1-year-old girl.

This happens too often, said Stephen Wagner, an Indianapolis attorney who represents victims of semi crashes. “It’s another really tragic commercial motor vehicle accident where the driver slams into a line of cars and causes havoc,” Wagner said. “If this was a driver in a Honda Accord, you wouldn’t see the devastation that you see with a commercial vehicle.”

There have been three deadly crashes since July involving an alleged distracted or impaired truck driver who is accused of killing people on a Central Indiana roads or highways. On Sunday, Mathew Lewis Small’s semi struck eight vehicles just south of the Zionsville/Whitestown exit, killing Mariah Tomey, 21, Hadley Tomey, 1, and Kaylee Kirk, 19, all of Lebanon.

Small, 34, of Grandville, Michigan, was held in the Boone County Jail on preliminary charges of reckless homicide. Court records show he’s had at least one traffic infraction as a truck driver. Last year he was cited in Carmel for following too closely.

Small expressed regret in a note shared Monday by authorities. “My heart and prayers are with the families,” the note said. “I am in agony over this whole ordeal.” In September, prosecutors say Danny Lee Williams, 62, Knightstown, snorted heroin before he crashed a dump truck into cars on U.S.

36 and South County Road 625 East in Avon. Williams’ truck struck 11 vehicles, killing Gerald and Rhonda Legan, both 80 of Danville.

Truck driver accused in crash that killed 3: 'I am in agony'

Williams was charged with reckless homicide, driving while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident. In July, Bruce Pollard, 57, of Sturgeon, Missouri, was speeding and reaching for iced tea when he crashed a semi tractor-trailer into a line of cars slowed for construction on I-465 near Keystone Avenue, according to court documents.

Pollard’s truck killed Alanna Norman Koons, 29, and her 18-month-old daughters, June and Ruby Koons, police said. He was charged with three felony counts of reckless homicide and a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving in a work zone.

‘Please pay attention’

In 2017, 4,761 people were killed in crashes that involved large trucks, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Board.

72% of those killed were occupants of other vehicles.

82% of the deaths involving trucks occurred in multi-vehicle crashes, compared to 62% of passenger vehicle fatal crashes.  “We are seeing more of these accidents as distracted driving becomes more of an issue,” Wagner said. “Fortunately, we’re seeing prosecutors taking these cases seriously and charging people when their inattention takes people’s lives.” While commercial vehicles pose the greatest danger, Boone County Sheriff Michael T.

Nielsen said distracted driving of all kinds is a serious problem. “The Boone County Sheriff’s Office feels strongly that those that cause death on our public roadways, because of driver inattention, should be held accountable,” Nielsen said in a statement. “Please pay attention to your driving when operating a motor vehicle.

Give yourself plenty of room to have a way out, put down your phone or other objects.” As the 2020 Indiana General Assembly session gets underway, a ban on cellphone use while driving is expected to be among the most closely watched bills.  Contact IndyStar reporter Vic Ryckaert at 317-444-2701 or vic.ryckaert@indystar.com.

Follow him on Twitter: @VicRyc.

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