Trucker comes forward after last week’s fatality caused by thrown tire

| 4/9/2007

A truck driver has come forward after apparently unknowingly losing a tire last week that resulted in a fatality.

Lt. Mike Thomas of the Florida Highway Patrol told Land Line last week that a truck hauling a white “box-type” trailer lost a tire as it headed south on Interstate 75 at about 12:35 a.m. on Monday, April 2.

One of the tractor’s tires came off and crossed the median before hitting the windshield of a northbound Saturn SUV, killing Valeria Herrera, a passenger in the SUV, Thomas said.

Kenneth Browning, 50, of Seymour, IN, came forward Friday after hearing about the crash, according to the Ocala Star-Banner.

Florida Highway Patrol Cpl. Wallace Dill told Land Line on Saturday that Browning “was very upset and was unaware one of his tires caused the accident.”

Publix Super Markets Inc. contacted Browning’s broker after hearing about the fatality, Dill said.

Highway Patrol detectives spent several days last week piecing together details to close the case and conducting news interviews about the fatality.

The truck’s driver reportedly stopped shortly after the accident at a Petro truck stop and chained the axle of his truck to the trailer, Thomas said last week. A truck stop clerk told police the trucker said he was hauling a load of potatoes to make a 5 a.m. delivery in the Lakeland, FL, area.

Those clues led investigators to believe the driver worked for a large carrier and that he possibly headed to a Publix Super Markets distribution center in the Lakeland area.

Thomas said last week that he doubted the tractor-trailer driver would be charged because “there doesn’t seem to be any neglect on the driver’s part.”

However, on Monday, Dill told Land Line that charges against the man are pending until a full investigation can be completed.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer