Driver of truck convicted in train wreck

| 8/17/2004

The man whose truck caused a 1999 Amtrak derailment that killed 11 people has been convicted of two felonies – driving too long at a time and falsifying his logbook.

The crash also injured 122 others aboard Amtrak’s City of New Orleans about 50 miles southwest of Chicago.

John R. Stokes, of Manteno, IL, was found guilty Aug. 11 by Circuit Judge Clark Erickson of driving more than the maximum allowed l0 hours in a 24-hour period and falsifying his logbook, The Associated Press reported.

Stokes, 63, was driving a truck loaded with more than 18 tons of steel when it ran into the path of the train at a crossing on March 15, 1999. The collision derailed the 79 mph train, destroying two locomotives and 11 of 14 train cars.

The National Transportation Safety Board ruled that Stokes’ failure to heed crossing signals and gates caused the accident. Investigators also said he had gotten just three to five hours of sleep in the 38 hours before the accident.

Stokes faces a possible prison term of one to three years, The AP reported. His sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 22.