Texas trucker told trooper coughing fit caused fatal wreck

| 3/16/2007

A coughing fit rendered a trucker powerless to control his rig this week, resulting in it ramming into five parked cars, killing one man.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Jeffrey Kingston of Art, TX, was traveling on Texas Highway 29 at about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13, when he began coughing and lost control of his truck.

The wreck occurred about seven miles east of Llano, TX, at a roadside nature viewing area known as "Eagle's Nest," where several cars were parked adjacent to the highway.

Kingston's 2006 Freightliner tractor, which was registered to Buttery Hardware Co. of Llano, TX, ran off the highway and hit five vehicles - killing 44-year-old Steven Ray Myers of Rowlett, TX, and injuring three others at the nature area.

The Texas Department of Public Safety is investigating the incident and will recommend whether Kingston will be charged, a department spokesman told Land Line Friday.

Eric Morgan, a spokesman for the public safety department, told the River Cities Daily? Tribune newspaper that he didn't expect to cite Kingston for any charges tied to the wreck.

In 2001, prosecutors in Saline County, MO, characterized a driver in a similar incident as a drug-crazed, sleepy-eyed trucker that succumbed to the "pressure to say on the road at whatever cost."

That driver, John Kendrix, an owner-operator from Moultrie, GA, faced five felony counts of second-degree involuntary manslaughter after he blacked out and lost control of his 2001 Freightliner on Interstate 70 near Houstonia, MO. The defense argued "cough syncopy."

Kendrix' rig crossed the center line and collided with a Ford F250 pickup truck that was carrying five passengers and hauling a horse trailer. All five died in the wreck.

Kendrix was acquitted of the charge after a three-day trial in August 2002, after testimony revealed Kendrix had consumed only cough drops and Alka-Seltzer and was not sleepy, according to a 2002 news article by former Land Line Feature Editor Rene Tankersley.

- By Charlie Morasch, staff writer