Second-degree manslaughter was the charge that commercial truck driver Thomas Wallace pled to in a New York criminal court this week, telling the judge that he was guilty of causing 33 year old Julie Stratton’s death.
That’s right: a big rig trucker involved in a truck crash on a busy freeway was not only charged with a crime, he’s now going to serve 5 to 15 years in a state prison for his actions.
What made this truck wreck different, taking it from a tragic accident to a serious crime?
It’s not controverted that truck driver Tom Wallace, driving a tractor-trailer for Wisconsin’s Millis Transfer, was exceeding HOS regulations. He had been driving 27 hours on 4 hours sleep. Sleep deprivation alone is a known cause of semi truck – car crashes in this country.
Perhaps to fight boredom, maybe in an attempt to stay awake, trucker Wallace was not just listening to music or drinking coffee: facts revealed that he was busy watching pornography on a laptop computer when the crash happened.
Apparently, the combination of HOS violations and watching streaming porn while driving a heavy big rig was enough for the local district attorney to decide to press criminal charges.
The Victim’s Car was Stalled on the Side of the Road
Julie Stratton died in that truck accident on the New York Thruway. A 33 year old wife and mother of 2 boys – ages 3 and 1 – she had parked her car on the side of the freeway after her car had hit a deer, and had been disabled in that accident.
Mrs. Stratton had already called 911, and was waiting for help to arrive when the accident occurred.
What Happens Now?
Right now, trucker Wallace is out on bail and spending time with his family in Ohio. He’ll be sentenced on September 1st, and start serving his sentence immediately thereafter. With good behavior, he should be released in a few years.
No word yet on the civil lawsuit for wrongful death that has been, or undoubtedly will be, filed.