Officials scrutinize truck, driver, company in fatal dump truck crash

| Friday, August 05, 2005

Investigators working on last week’s deadly dump truck crash in Connecticut will analyze parts from the truck to see if the wreck was caused by mechanical failure.

On Friday, July 29, a 12-wheeled dump truck owned by American Crushing and Recycling careened down Route 44 in Avon, CT, slamming into cars waiting at the intersection with Route 10. Four people were killed, including the truck’s driver, Abdulraheem Naafi, also known as Terrance R. Stokes.

Capt. Mark Rinaldo of the Avon Police Department told Land Line that investigators are dismantling key mechanical parts of the truck to determine if the accident was caused by equipment failure.

“We’re in the process today of pulling off the component parts of truck, looking at the brakes, the transmission, and just trying to make a determination if that’s what happened,” Rinaldo said. “Early indications are that’s what happened.”

Rinaldo said it appears the driver tried to avoid hitting anyone.

“It looks like, as he was coming down the mountain, he was in the right-hand lane,” Rinaldo. “The middle lane was open, he changed lanes to the middle lane. He was going through a pretty dangerous intersection and he tried to correct himself, and that’s when he lost control of the vehicle. It was a fully loaded dump truck, which caused it to flip on its side.”

Earlier this week, Gov. M. Jodi Rell ordered an inspection of a violation-plagued trucking company whose dump truck was involved in a crash that killed four people last week.

Investigators said they have not yet determined what caused Naafi to hit the other vehicles. However, Department of Transportation records show that inspectors had found five brake violations on the truck during inspections in the past. All of the problems were corrected, according to Newsday.

The company that owned the truck also had 448 mechanical violations between 1994 and 2001 while operating as Wilcox Trucking. The company changed names after the state Department of Motor Vehicles suspended the registrations of 16 of its trucks because they failed to comply with a number of repair orders, a DMV spokesperson told Newsday.

Naafi’s own history is also being questioned in the investigation. The accident occurred just two days after he began working for American Crushing and Recycling – the day after he was fired from another trucking company partially because he could not operate the truck’s transmission, Newsday reported.

Under a third, unreleased name, Naafi had a criminal record that included a robbery conviction.

Besides inspecting American Crushing and Recycling, the governor has also ordered inspections of the 25 trucking companies in the state with the most safety violations on record.

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