Ohio trucker faces 12 counts for 2012 crash that killed 4-year-old

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | 10/29/2013

An Ohio trucker is facing a slew of charges, including reckless homicide and involuntary manslaughter, stemming from a July 2012 crash that killed a little girl on U.S. Highway 30 in Indiana.

Gary Golay, 55, of West Mansfield, Ohio, was charged with 12 counts total, including nine felony counts of criminal recklessness and one count of false informing. The false informing charges stem from allegations that Golay falsified his logbooks and duty status records in the week leading up to the crash.

Investigators with the Indiana State Patrol said Golay had not taken a mandatory 10-hour break for at least two days prior to the crash, and that he was operating in violation of both the 11-hour driving rule and 14-hour on-duty rules.

At around 3:20 p.m. on July 27, 2012, Golay was driving a 2003 Freightliner hauling a container of automotive parts when he crashed into four vehicles that were stopped at a traffic light on westbound Highway 30 and Kroemer Road in Allen County, Ind.

The crash resulted in the death of 4-year-old Abigail Little, a passenger in one of the vehicles that was struck by Golay’s truck. The probable-cause affidavit lists weather conditions for the day as sunny and clear, with 10 miles of visibility.

While investigating the crash, officers also found no evidence of braking on Golay’s part.

The wreck was investigated by Indiana State Trooper Matthew Lazoff, who said in the report that Golay seemed “shaken” when he interviewed the suspect at the scene following the wreck. Lazoff said Golay told him he was “looking out the window” to his left just before the crash, and turned back to the roadway in time to see the vehicles approaching him.

Troopers used information from Golay, including bills, receipts, trip sheets, gate times and information from his onboard computer to re-create his actual driving log for the eight days prior to the crash.

On July 20, Golay’s on-duty time was approximately 21.25 hours, of which 17 hours was driving time and 2.75 hours was off-duty time.

On July 21, after 5.5 hours of off-duty time, Golay was on duty for approximately three hours, 2.25 of which were driving hours. He then went off-duty for the rest of the day and all of July 22. Troopers noted that these hours of service violate both the 11-hour driving rule and the 14-hour on-duty rule for both days.

On July 23, Golay was on duty for 14.25 hours, of which 11.25 was driving time. The affidavit notes that he had approximately nine hours of off-duty time split up throughout the day.

Having not taken a 10-hour required break from work, Golay was on duty for 18 hours on July 24, with approximately 14.75 hours behind the wheel, and 6.5 hours split up of off-duty time.

July 25 started out in violation of the 11-hour rule as well, until Golay took a 10.5-hour break at 2:30 a.m.

On July 26, Golay was reportedly on duty for 14 hours, with 12 hours of driving time and 10 hours of split up off-duty time.

The day of the crash, the report notes that Golay had not yet taken a mandatory 10-hour break and was on duty for 7.75 hours, including 6.25 hours of driving time up to the crash.

The cargo weighed approximately 68,450 lbs. A search warrant was obtained and included downloading information from the engine control module on Golay’s vehicle. Data from the ECM reportedly shows that Golay was driving at 60 mph two seconds prior to the crash, and there was no braking prior to impact.

According to CSA records, Roadlink USA National is ranked in the 79.5 percentile for hour- of-service compliance, with 294 HOS compliance violations reported. The company also was in the 96 percentile for vehicle maintenance violations. The company has had its motor carrier operating authority revoked seven times, most recently in February of 2013, and currently remains out-of-service according to FMCSA.

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