A deadly tractor trailer crash in Elizabeth, N.J. has everyone wondering how a man with multiple arrests and convictions was behind the wheel of the truck to begin with.
According to information released by prosecutors, the 57-year-old driver, who has at least 10 aliases, was driving the truck erratically down First Street and Elizabeth Ave. when he struck a vehicle. The driver of the vehicle tried to get the truck driver to stop, but he sped off. An off-duty police officer, who had witnessed the accident, also tried to get the driver to stop. During this attempt, the officer fired one shot from his service revolver.
The truck driver sped away in the massive vehicle, hitting several vehicles – both moving and parked. Several streets away, the driver plowed right through a police barricade that had been put up to stop him. Two more officers shot at the driver, striking him, but he again just sped off, still driving erratically.
Approximately one-half mile away from the barricade, the driver drove the truck head-on into an oncoming vehicle. Witnesses described the sound of that collision as a loud explosion and described shattered pieces of cars everywhere, along with mangled and twisted up chunks of metal. One occupant in the car, 24-year-old Jeffrey Oakley, was killed instantly in the crash, his lifeless body sprawled in the middle of the road. Two other occupants in the car survived and were transported to an area hospital for treatment. One of those victims is suffering from serious organ injury. Police say that the dead victim was just two blocks from his home when he was killed.
The driver, who was brought into his court arraignment wearing a neck brace, has been arrested 55 times and had several parole violations on his record. Police testified that the man reeked of alcohol at the scene of the fatal truck crash.
He faces aggravated manslaughter, death by auto and aggravated assault charges. If convicted of all charges, he could receive up to 40 years in prison. He is currently being held on $2 million bail.
It is incomprehensible to think that a tractor trailer company would hire someone who has the extensive criminal record this driver has, handing the responsibility of a vehicle that in the wrong or inexperienced hands can do so much damage and destruction. It appears the company failed to fully investigate just who they were turning the truck keys over to, and now a family is grieving the loss of their son.
Although no amount of money can ever make up the loss of a loved one, anyone who has lost a family member in a deadly tractor trailer accident should contact a North Carolina truck accident attorney. Our law firm also offers a free wrongful death guide for families who have lost loved ones in an accident. The guide covers topics such as the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death claim, what types of damages can be pursued, and who can be appointed as personal representative.