Bosnian trucker faces minimum 15-month sentence for 5 deaths

| 11/30/2005

A Bosnian truck driver who caused a 2003 wreck that killed a North Carolina family of five has been sentenced to 15 to 30 months in prison.

The Associated Press reported that Ejub Grcic, 57, pleaded guilty in September to five counts of involuntary manslaughter as part of an agreement that allowed him to stay in the U.S. He also pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful activities for driving a commercial vehicle while unable to speak English.

Police say Grcic’s truck was in excess of the road’s ten-ton weight limit when he ran a stop sign and crashed into a car in July 2003.

Killed in the wreck 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 the morning of July 8. All were from Smithfield, NC.

Grcic was originally scheduled to be sentenced Monday, Nov. 28, in Butler County, PA, court, but the hearing was delayed when an interpreter called in sick and officials couldn’t find anyone else who could speak his language.

The AP reported that Judge George Hatcher said that, in sentencing Grcic, he balanced the horrible effects of the accident on the victims’ family with Grcic’s remorse and his background of having fled war-torn Bosnia.

According to a July 2003 news story in Land Line Magazine, Grcic was allegedly part owner in a one-man trucking company, EH Transport, based in Utah.

While it is unclear whether Grcic obtained his license illegally, the FBI found that he did obtain it from one of three third-party contractors that were indicted by a federal grand jury in November.

The contractors were part of a scheme that allowed people to pay anywhere from $500 to $1,500 to one of the contractors and walk away with a commercial driver’s license from the state 15 minutes later. For a few hundred dollars more, they could even buy the answers to the written test.

The FBI investigation, called Operation Road Warrior, found that Grcic was unable to speak, read or write in English at the time he obtained his license. Another man licensed by one of the contractors was a deaf mute.