Village, CA, trucking firm has been cleared of manslaughter charges
in connection with a February 2000 crash that killed one of its
drivers, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Court Judge Edward Brodie dismissed the charge Sept. 23 after
further investigation by prosecutors revealed that driver error
was most likely the cause of the accident, not poor maintenance
by defendant R.P. Cummings Inc.
of Ventura, CA, died when he lost control of a company tanker
truck on a steep grade near Santa Paula and crashed into a creek
ravine. A California Highway Patrol investigation concluded the
foot brakes failed because of poor maintenance.
the CHP report, the district attorney charged the company with
involuntary manslaughter. But as they neared trial, prosecutors
received new evidence that prompted them to re-evaluate the case,
the newspaper reported.
hired by the defense concluded that information retrieved in the
truck's electronic control module, which recorded information
in the last 90 seconds before the crash, suggested the brakes
condition did not cause the accident. The data reportedly showed
the truck went into neutral seconds before the crash, rendering
the brake system inoperable.
consultant noted in an Aug. 24 report that Hildebrand had the
truck in the wrong gear and rode the foot brakes down the grade,
causing them to overheat. According to the Times, new evidence
also revealed that Hildebrand had been experiencing problems with
his left arm before the accident and could use only one hand when
driving his truck. A medical report dated less than a week before
the accident shows that Hildebrand was instructed not to drive
a company vehicle.