A motor carrier in Yakima, Diamond Freight, has been tied to another serious truck crash* in Central Washington.

 Yakima trucking company involved in second fatal crash, via Yakima Herald

The local news outlet reported that “The Washington State Patrol confirmed that both drivers worked for Diamond Freight Systems — which also goes by NW Freight Inc. — based at the same Yakima address…” (emphasis added).

This statement sets off an alarm bell.

I’ve seen trucking companies try to avoid the repercussions of federal safety violations, or serious crashes. The same company registers under a new name, and gets a new DOT number, to hide from the consequences.

In the trucking industry, they’re referred to as chameleon carriers. 

Coluccio_Law_Trucking_Blog_Chameleon_Carrier

Here’s what we know.

The trucking company’s crashes

According to news reports, Diamond Freight has been involved in several serious crashes in the last few years.

July 6, 2017:   A Diamond Freight trucker in a box truck crossed the center line on Highway 153, and hit a semi-truck on the other side. Both truck drivers died; a passenger in the box truck was also injured. The crash investigation is ongoing.

March 2015:   A Diamond Freight trucker crossed the center line on Washington’s Highway 97, and struck a passenger car before colliding with a school bus. The car’s driver was killed; the bus driver and some of the children on the bus were injured, as were the trucker and his passenger. The trucker is currently serving time in jail for vehicular manslaughter.

Washington-State-Patrol_Yakima-truck-crash

The trucking company’s driver was charged with vehicular manslaughter for a March 2015 crash with a car and a school bus.

February 2014:   Before the March 2015 collision, the same trucker was operating a Diamond Freight box truck when he crossed the center line and struck an oncoming Honda. The car’s driver and passenger were seriously injured.

Investigating trucking companies

Motor carriers safety records are public information. The FMCSA maintains a database called SAFER (Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System). Companies registered in Washington State can be verified in the Secretary of State’s database.

Diamond Freight Systems, Inc. 
USDOT #: 544370
Washington State filing date: January 1991
Address: 645 Keys Road, Yakima
Phone: 509-453-3137

  • Fatal crashes reported: 0
  • Injury crashes reported: 0
Northwest Freight and Parcel, LLC
USDOT #: 2823911
Washington State filing date: July 31, 2015
Address: 645 Keys Road, Yakima
Phone: 509-453-3137

  • Fatal crashes reported: 1
  • Injury crashes reported: 0

Is this trucking company a chameleon carrier?

I can’t say with certainty that this company was created as a chameleon carrier; but, there are several details that don’t make sense.

  1. Despite the news reports, Diamond Freight Systems, Inc., and Northwest Freight, LLC, do not appear to be the same company.
    • They have different USDOT numbers. That’s how the federal government identifies registered motor carriers. Each individual company should have only one active number.
    • Neither has a “DBA”  listing. Any name identifying the entity other than the legal name must be listed as DBA (short for Doing Business As).
    • One is an Limited Liability Corporation, the other a Regular Corporation, and they have different named officers.
  2. Northwest Freight, LLC, was created in July 2015—after the truck crashes in February 2014 and March 2015, when Diamond Freight’s SAFER report would have shown those crashes.
  3. They share an address.
  4. They share a phone number.
  5. Diamond Freight has no fatal crashes reported in the last 24 months. We know there was a double fatality collision on July 6, 2017.
  6. However, Northwest Freight reports one fatal crash in the last 24 months.

NWFreight-TruckCrashData

Is that the crash from July 6?

They have continued to operate, but just call themselves something different, under another corporation, because they’ve got this lawsuit pending … ”

Attorney G. Joe Schwab to Yakima Herald

 

We probably won’t know the answer. At least we know that Mr. Schwab, the lawyer representing the young woman killed back in March 2015, will investigate. 

I hope he can uncover the truth about what’s happening at this trucking company, and get some measure of justice for the family.

 

* Coluccio Law does not refer to predictable, preventable truck crashes as “accidents.” See: We say “crash” instead of “accident”.