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Trucker, employer sued over fatal Oklahoma turnpike crash

Large Truck Accidents | Featured Articles

October 07 2009 - Trucker, employer sued over fatal Oklahoma turnpike crash

NORMAN, OKLAHOMA — Family members of the 10 people who were killed when a semi slammed into a line of stopped cars on a turnpike have sued the truck’s driver and his employer.

A 10-page lawsuit filed in Cleveland County District Court names Donald L. Creed of Willard, Mo.; Kansas City, Kan.-based Associated Wholesale Grocers; two insurance companies; a California company; and two individuals as defendants.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $10,000.

Creed, 76, has been charged with 10 misdemeanor counts of negligent homicide in connection with the June 26 accident on the Will Rogers Turnpike (I-44) in Ottawa County, in the northeastern tip of Oklahoma.

Creed’s attorney in the criminal case couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon. A message left for Steve Dillard, vice president for corporate sales at Associated Wholesale Grocers, was not immediately returned Tuesday.

According to an Oklahoma Highway Patrol report, Creed’s cruise control appeared to be set at about 70 mph — 5 mph below turnpike limit — before the 1:16 p.m. accident.

Investigators found no evidence that Creed tried to brake or take evasive action before hitting the other cars, which had stopped because of an earlier crash, the Highway Patrol report said.

Those killed included Frisco, Texas, resident Randall Hayes, 38; his wife, Shelby, 35; their son, Ethan, 7; and his mother-in-law, Cynthia Olson, 55, of Crossroads, Texas.

Also killed were Oral Hooks, 69, of Oklahoma City; his wife, Earlene, 63; and two sons, Antonio, 42, and Dione, 41.

Phoenix residents Ricardo Reyes, 39, and Ernestina Reyes also perished, but their 12-year-old daughter, Andrea, survived.

According to the lawsuit, Creed “failed to slow and maintain control of his truck as he drove his tractor-trailer rig into the slowed or stopped traffic at an unsafe speed.”

Associated Wholesale Grocers is accused of failing to properly select, train and supervise Creed and for “launching Creed in the AWG truck at 3 a.m. from Springfield, Mo. ... and requir(ing) Creed to work throughout the day up until the time of the collision.”

The lawsuit also names as defendants Pennsylvania-based ACE American Insurance Co., an insurer for Associated Wholesale Grocers; California-based G.D. Transport Inc.; Nebraska-based National Liability and Fire Insurance Co., an insurer for G.D. Transport; trucker and California resident Rajeev Sharma and motorist Erin Alf of Texas.

According to the lawsuit, Alf and Sharma, working for G.D. Transport, were driving vehicles involved in the initial accident that caused traffic to back up on the highway. Attempts to reach Alf and Sharma were unsuccessful.

Alf was cited in the accident, John W. Norman, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said in an e-mail response to questions.

Norman declined to specify the amount being sought by the plaintiffs. He said the victims’ families decided to file the lawsuit jointly because it “is a means of obtaining efficiency and economy in the administration and handling of the case, and demonstrates the enormity and gravity of the loss, and harm caused.”

In all large truck cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of a large truck accident, call the Truck Accident Lawyers Group, Inc. now at (877) 736-4222 or CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT A SIMPLE CASE FORM. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.