The owner of a Pennsylvania trucking company has pleaded guilty to several charges following a fatal wreck in January, including illegally obtaining truck inspection stickers for his carrier’s trucks.
On Jan. 23, 2009, a truck owned by Victor Kalinitchii plowed into stopped traffic on U.S. Highway 76 in Philadelphia. One person, David Schreffler, 49, of Fort Washington, PA, died. Five other motorists and passengers were injured in the wreck.
An investigation by Pennsylvania State Police and the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office later determined the crash occurred because the “tractor-trailer’s brakes were extremely dangerous.”
According to a report from the FMCSA Office of Inspector General, investigators learned that both Kalinitchii and the driver, Valerjis Belovs, were aware of the brake problem but Kalinitchii decided to keep the truck on the road, without repairing the bad brakes.
The company truck also featured a valid inspection sticker, which the investigation proved was obtained illegally.
Joseph Jadczak, owner of Pratt Auto, which supplied the illicit inspection stickers, also has pleaded guilty. Jadczak admitted to providing the stickers without ever performing vehicle inspections.
FMCSA’s analysis of Belvos’ driver logbooks showed he was driving in excess of federally allowed maximum driving hours at the time of the accident.
Belovs, a Ukrainian immigrant, had informed his boss about the faulty brakes repeatedly, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“I push brake, but no stop,” Belovs reportedly said.
– by Charlie Morasch, staff writer