On a warm June night in 2015, a trucker cruising down down a busy highway in Tennessee didn’t slow for traffic.
He never hit the brakes as his tractor-trailer slammed into a Prius at 80 mph. That car was stuck to the front grill of the truck for another 453 feet, as the truck hit seven more vehicles.
Six people were killed. Four others had terrible injuries.
An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board found that the truck driver hadn’t had adequate rest in the 40 hours before the crash. The report noted that the trucking company hired him without knowing he had four crashes in the three years before this incident, two of which were in commercial vehicles.
The 42-year-old commercial truck driver, Benjamin Brewer, faced a number of criminal charges.
Last week, he went to trial.
Truck driver on trial
At the criminal trial, victims recounted hearing a very loud sound.
Some could see the tractor-trailer coming towards their cars right before the impact.
Prosecutors said that the truck driver was high on methamphetamine as he barreled into traffic, never hitting the brakes. The attorneys pointed out there were miles of warning ahead of the construction zone traffic.
Public defenders said the trucker had probably dozed off behind the wheel. They argued that the toxicology reports had been contaminated, and intoxication didn’t cause the crash.
After six hours of deliberation, a jury in Tennessee found the truck driver, Benjamin Brewer, guilty of:
- Six counts of vehicular homicide by intoxication;
- Four counts of reckless aggravated assault;
- Driving under the influence; and
Brewer faces up to 72 years in prison. He will be sentenced in March.
* Update: On March 12, a judge sentenced Brewer to 55 years in prison for the charges related to the fatal crash.
Civil lawsuits, filed by injured victims and surviving family members against the truck driver and the motor carrier can now proceed.
We wish the best of luck to the crash victims and their families, and hope they can find some measure of justice, and peace.