trucker Ejub Grcic, 54, is in jail today as authorities continue
an investigation of the fiery crash July 7 in Slippery Rock, PA,
that killed five people.
truck driven by Grcic, who lives in West Valley, UT, reportedly
ran a stop sign, crashing into a car carrying a North Carolina family.
All members of the family are dead.
North Carolina family had been visiting relatives in the area over
Independence Day. Killed were Janet Kerr, 35; Kathleen Kerr, 13;
Kenneth Kerr III, 4; and Alessandra Hall, 16, who was Janet Kerr's
daughter from a previous marriage. The driver, Kenneth Kerr Jr.,
35, died Tuesday morning. All were from Smithfield, NC.
cause of the crash is under close examination by investigators.
The collision occurred during daylight hours at the Branchton Road-Route
8 intersection. There’s a stop sign there, but no traffic light.
authorities are compiling statistics on other accidents occurring
at the intersection, a storm of scrutiny is swirling around the
trucker. A July 10 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported
that preliminary information indicates that Grcic is part owner
of EH Transport, a one-truck business in West Valley, UT. He held
a Utah commercial driver’s license. According to news reports, Pennsylvania
State Police are having such difficulties communicating with Grcic
that they can’t imagine how he qualified for a commercial driver’s
Olsen, part owner and head of training at Mountain West CDL School
in Salt Lake City, says he thinks Grcic must have had some English
skills or he simply could not have passed the written test. Most
CDL applicants in Utah can take the road test from private testing
companies or CDL schools who are third-party examiners, but Olsen
says the written test is administered by the state.
have to have some ability to speak English. For those who are still
learning to speak and read the language, Utah has audio assistance,
so a driver can put on the headphones and listen to a tape of the
test,” says Olsen. “It makes it much easier to understand and of
course, pass the test. You still have to be able to communicate
in English. To be a trucker, you have to. It’s the law.”
to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations
for driver qualifications, Section 391.11, commercial driver’s license
holders must be able to “read and speak the English language sufficiently
to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic
signs and signals in English, to respond to official inquiries and
to make entries on reports and records.”
to news reports, Grcic needed a Croatian interpreter to communicate
with police. He also needed an interpreter at his arraignment Tuesday.
Grcic was charged on five counts of homicide by vehicle, one count
each of driving an overweight truck and driving a commercial vehicle
without being able to communicate with authorities, and related
motor vehicle offenses.
are also investigating why Grcic was on the rural road before the
Monday afternoon crash in Slippery Rock. According to The Associated
Press, police reports said the tractor-trailer was too heavy
for the road, which displayed signs proclaiming a 10-ton limit.
The Post-Gazette reported that Tom Hudachko, spokesman for the
Utah Department of Transportation, would release only general information
about the company.
told the Post-Gazette the company had gone through 45 inspections
at weigh stations across the country. Of them, 14 were vehicle inspections
in which brakes, liners and blinkers were tested. Thirty-one were
driver inspections in which it was determined whether the driver
had a valid license, kept log books or drove too many hours.
told the Post-Gazette EH Transport had six violations, not
an excessive number.
have never had a violation ... where it set off an alarm,"
by Sandi Soendker, managing editor
Soendker can be reached at email@example.com.