Company with truck in deadly accident rated satisfactory for safety
Mike Emery Richmond Palladium-Item Published 7:00 AM EDT Jul 18, 2020 RICHMOND, Ind. — Despite previous drug-related felony convictions, a truck driver was properly licensed July 9 when his tractor-trailer slammed into a car at 72 miles per hour, an accident that killed four children and seriously injured their father.
And the company that employed him, Barnets, Inc., of Camden, Ohio, has a satisfactory federal safety rating, the best of three rating categories Corey Robert Withrow, 31, of Camden, Ohio, possessed a valid Ohio commercial driver’s license, according to Sgt. John Bowling, public information officer of the Indiana State Police’s Pendleton Post.
Previous felony convictions do not disqualify a person from obtaining a CDL, according to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles website. Violations that occur in a private or commercial vehicle can result in CDL license suspensions lasting from 60 days to life. Wayne County has recommended the immediate suspension of Withrow’s driving privileges, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
The person who answered the phone Friday at Barnets said the company would make no comment about Withrow’s employment because of the ongoing investigation into the accident. Bowling said the state police’s Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division had been in contact with Barnets, which was established in 1962. According to an affidavit, Withrow was erratically driving a tractor-trailer eastbound July 9 on Interstate 70 prior to the accident, including nearly running another truck off the roadway.
Traffic was slowed west of Ind.
1 near Cambridge City as it merged to one lane for a construction zone. Witnesses told investigators that Withrow’s truck never slowed before it smashed into a Chevrolet Impala carrying the father and his four children. The car then hit the trailer of another truck before being pushed into the median, where it and Withrow’s truck caught fire.
While Withrow emerged from his burning truck uninjured, only the father, Aaron Bruce, 34, of Kansas City, Missouri, was rescued from the Chevrolet. Bruce was placed in a medically induced coma in the Eskenazi Hospital burn unit in Indianapolis.
Those killed are: Anesa Noel Acosta, 15; Quintin Michael McGowan, 13; Brekkin Riley Bruce, 8; and Trentin Beau Bruce, 6. Barnets provided GPS data to investigating law enforcement officers that showed Withrow’s truck traveling 72 miles per hour at the time of the crash.
A preliminary toxicology test at Reid Health found cannabis, amphetamines and ecstasy in Withrow’s system. He was jailed, but a bondsman posted a £35,000 bond July 10 to secure Withrow’s release from jail. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday, though, filed a motion in Superior Court 1 to increase Withrow’s bail amount.
Withrow’s initial hearing on nine felony charges related to the fatal crash is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Thursday in Superior 1. Withrow faces four Level 4 felony charges of causing death when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, four Level 5 felony charges of reckless homicide and one Level 4 felony of causing catastrophic injury when operating while intoxicated.
A Level 4 felony conviction carries a standard sentence of six years and a range of two to 12 years, and a Level 5 felony conviction has a three-year standard sentence and range of one to six years. EARLIER COVERAGE: ?Truck driver in deadly crash jailed after failing Ohio drug test
?9 felonies filed against truck driver in deadly I-70 accident ?4 children die in I-70 accident; semi driver jailed With those charges filed in Wayne County, Withrow is now also accused of violating probation from a felony conviction in Preble County, Ohio, for aggravated possession of drugs.
Withrow was sentenced March 27, 2019, to three years of probation after pleading guilty. He was jailed Thursday because he testing positive during a drug screen administered by the Preble County Probation Department. Judge Stephen R.
Bruns presided over an initial hearing on the probation violation Friday in the Preble County Court of Common Pleas. A full hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Aug.
A look at the trucking company’s safety ratings
The I-70 accident is the seventh federally reportable accident in 25 months for Barnets drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Of the other six previous reportable accidents, three caused injury, but none caused death.
Reportable accidents are those that cause at least one death or injury or require a wrecker to remove at least one vehicle. The FMCSA’s Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System lists Barnets’ safety rating as satisfactory, which means records indicate no evidence of substantial non-compliance with safety requirements. Satisfactory is the highest of three rankings, ahead of conditional, which indicates lack of compliance with one or more safety requirements, and unsatisfactory, which indicates substantial non-compliance with safety requirements.
Barnets, which is an interstate trucking company that carries general freight and paper products, owns 39 truck cabs, down from 45 between March and April, and employs 39 drivers, which fell from 41. It reported nearly 3.5 million miles driven during 2017, the last year of mileage reported by the FMCSA. Withrow was not involved in any of the previous six accidents, according to driver ages listed in accident reports with FMCSA’s Safety Measurement System.
There were 177,942 accidents involving large trucks and buses during 2019 that injured 94,971 people and killed 4,937. One of Barnets’ previous accidents was on I-70 in Indiana and another was in Wayne County. At 2:06 p.m.
April 3, a Barnets truck was towed from a one-vehicle accident on Ohio 129 in Butler County, Ohio. A Barnets truck was involved in a three-vehicle accident at 12:22 p.m. Nov.
15 on Interstate 40 in Canton, North Carolina. Two people were injured in a midnight Oct.
8 accident on Ohio 725 in Preble County that involved a Barnets truck. There was one injury when a Barnets truck crashed at 9:33 a.m.
27 on County Road 5 in Preble County. A three-vehicle accident involving a Barnets truck injured one person at 4 p.m. Dec.
17, 2018, on U.S.
35 North in Richmond. At 3:20 p.m. Aug.
20, 2018, a Barnets truck was involved in a two-vehicle accident on eastbound I-70 in Greenfield.
Barnets has not recorded an acute or critical violation among 42 violations inspectors reported during the 24 months ending June 26 in five Behavior Analysis & Safety Improvement Categories (BASIC) represented in the Safety Measurement System. Two other BASIC categories — the crash indicator and hazardous materials handling, which does not apply to Barnets — are not made public. The license plate number of the Kenworth that Withrow was driving July 9 does not appear among the 59 inspections of Barnets vehicles in those 24 months.
For context, there were 295,701 driver violations and 60,213 drivers put out of service from 947,850 inspections during the 12-month fiscal year 2020. There were 1,608,821 vehicle violations and 367,749 vehicles put out of service from 1,121,727 vehicle inspections during that same time frame. BASIC attempts to identify unsafe motor carriers to prioritize FMCSA enforcement resources toward the greatest safety risks as it attempts to prevent crashes, injuries and fatalities related to trucks and buses.
Carrier companies are scored based on the severity and recency of their violations. The Safety Measurement System flags companies for interventions based on how their scores compare to their peers and their acute or critical violations in each BASIC category. Companies with one or more flags have shown a 79% higher future crash rate than carriers not flagged, according to FMCSA, which labels unsafe driving, crash indicator and hours of service issues as those related most strongly to accident risk.
According to its online BASIC snapshot, Barnets is not flagged in any of the five categories available for public scrutiny. Sixteen of Barnets’ violations fell in the unsafe driving category, which includes traffic violations such as failing to use a seat belt, failing to obey a traffic control device, lane restriction violations and speeding. Fourteen violations were hours-of-service issues.
Those include failure of an onboard recording device and issues with a driver’s duty status. Driving with a suspended CDL and a driver not having a valid license for the vehicle being operated were Barnets’ two violations in the driver fitness category. Ten violations involved vehicle maintenance, such as improper load securement, an inoperable tail lamp, a fire extinguisher issue and problems with the ABS system.
Only one of 28 vehicle inspections resulted in an inspector placing a Barnets vehicle out of service. That 3.6% rate shines compared to the 20.72% national out-of-service rate. However, seven of 60 driver inspections resulted in a Barnets driver being placed out of service.
That 11.7% rate is more than double the 5.51% national rate.
Driver had history of drug-related convictions
Barnets did not have any violations for use of controlled substances or alcohol among its drivers during the 24-month period ending June 26. In fact, one violation in June 2018 is the only substance or alcohol violation for Barnets dating to November 2010. Withrow, though, has had multiple previous drug-related convictions in western Ohio.
In addition to the conviction for which he’s currently on probation, he was sentenced Sept.
21, 2016, to three years of probation after pleading guilty to felony counts of possession of heroin, burglary and breaking and entering in Preble County. On Sept.
8, 2015, Withrow was fined £300 after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges of reckless driving and possession of drug paraphernalia in Franklin, Ohio, which is south of Dayton. He had originally been charged with driving under the influence, but that charge was reduced to reckless driving.
Withrow had a 2013 charge of possession of heroin in Montgomery County, Ohio, dismissed when he completed drug treatment for a program that allows intervention in lieu of conviction.
Police seek crash photos, videos
Sheriff Randy Retter is requesting members of the public provide his agency with any photos or videos of the July 9 accident on Interstate 70 that killed four children. The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office is handling the criminal investigation into Corey Robert Withrow, the driver of a tractor-trailer facing criminal charges because of his role in the accident that occurred about 5:07 p.m. west of the I-70 interchange with Ind.
1 near Cambridge City. Retter said his agency is attempting to acquire all possible evidence in the case.
Photos or videos may be uploaded at https://waynesheriffin.evidence.com/axon/citizen/public/70fatalcrash from a cell phone, tablet, laptop or other electronic device.
Call 765-973-9393 for additional information.