A judge ruled this week that the driver of a runaway dump truck and the company that employed him must both stand vehicular manslaughter charges in connection with a horrible traffic accident in Rancho Cucamonga that killed one person and injured several others, the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reported.
The judge categorically stated during the hearing, the newspaper reports, that both Adam Ahlberg, the driver, and the company, Clark Grading, knew that the truck had defective brakes before it hit the road on June 16, 2006. The heavy truck careened out of control on Archibald Avenue because the brakes failed and struck pretty much everything in its way. It reportedly came to a stop only after running a red light at Arrow Highway and colliding with an Omnitrans bus and another Rancho Cucamonga public works truck.
Officials described the death and destruction caused by this runaway dump truck as something similar to a bomb explosion. The driver of the city truck, Angel Calzada, a 20-year veteran of the public works department, was killed in the accident. Investigators discovered that not only did Ahlberg know that the brakes on the truck were problematic but the problems were so bad that the California Highway Patrol once ordered the truck off the road after issuing a citation for faulty brakes. Of course, Ahlberg’s employers knew about it because he repeatedly noted the problems on his log as he is supposed to.
This is one of the most appalling cases of gross negligence. Here is a driver who knew as he pulled away from the lot that the brakes weren’t working properly as did his management. Yet, they chose to put their employee and many others on the road in harm’s way. Not only should they face criminal charges, but they must be held financially responsible for their negligence and callous disregard for public safety.
This case should serve as a lesson to other trucking companies in California and around the nation that don’t operate too differently. As personal injury attorneys who represent victims of truck accidents, we often find that these big rigs are not properly maintained, that drivers are not maintaining their logs properly or honestly and employers don’t take the time to do background checks on their employees including screening them for alcohol and/or drugs.
We hope both this driver and the trucking company are prosecuted and given the judgment they deserve. We also wish the victims and their families the very best and certainly hope they get the compensation they rightfully deserve for being exposed to the pain, grief and suffering caused by this unnecessary accident.