The Florida Highway Patrol has announced criminal charges in a semi truck accident that killed six in Glades County last year, the Naples News reported July 16. Ewing Saunders, 67, was charged with six counts of DUI manslaughter and one count of DUI property damage in the Sept. 29 accident. The crash killed Jose Saavedra, Jose Maria Arellano, Lucas Reyes Flores, Rigoberto Reyes Perez, Oscar Humberto Reyes and Sergio Saul Salazar. All six men were in a van on the way to their jobs picking saw palmetto berries, according to the article.
The FHP report said Saunders, of Nokomis, was driving a 2005 Peterbuilt tractor-trailer on State Road 78 in Glades County. As he approached the intersection with State Road 29, he failed to stop for a stop sign and collided with the workers’ 1993 Chevrolet van. All six men were pronounced dead on the scene; no injuries to Saunders were reported. However, testing of Saunders showed that he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.11 — over the 0.08 legal limit in Florida. The FHP filed charges after a 10-month investigation. Saunders was held on $300,000 bail; if convicted on all counts, he faces decades in prison.
As a Pompano Beach big rig accident lawyer, I was struck by the fact that this is a DUI manslaughter case. Statistically, truckers drive drunk at much lower rates than other motorists — possibly because they can have their commercial licenses suspended for just one infraction. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, truck drivers were just 1% of drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2007 who were legally drunk; they also had the lowest rate of previous DUI convictions of all drivers involved in fatal crashes.
But when truck drivers do drive under the influence, the results can be deadly. Because trucks are so large and heavy, they are nearly guaranteed to cause serious damage to passenger vehicles in any collision — killing or very severely injuring the people inside. That’s why statistically, the vast majority of people killed in semi truck crashes are people in other vehicles. When they are not killed, victims often sustain catastrophic or disabling injuries requiring lifelong medical care, such as brain damage or paralysis. As a Hallandale tractor-trailer accident attorney, my job is to help these victims win a fair insurance settlement, so they can get needed medical care and put their lives back together — but I would much rather see fewer families devastated by a truck driver’s negligence.
Based in Hollywood, Cohn, Smith & Cohn represents clients throughout the state of Florida who were seriously injured by someone else’s carelessness. Our North Miami Beach trucking accident attorneys can help victims and their families avoid exploitation by insurance companies after a serious accident and win them all the money to which they are legally entitled. In a lawsuit, victims can claim money to pay medical bills; replace a lost income; and pay all other accident-related costs, now and in the future. They can also claim compensation for a devastating injury, pain, suffering, and any permanent disability or wrongful death.
If you or a loved one was hit by a drunk or otherwise negligent truck driver and you’d like to know more about your rights, Cohn, Smith & Cohn can help. To tell us about your claim and learn more at a free consultation, please call us today at (954) 431-8100 or contact us through the Internet.