South Carolina driver, companies ordered out of service after fatality

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Three weeks after a truck driver’s involvement in a fatal wreck, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has revoked operating authority for the driver and two small companies he’s associated with.

According to an FMCSA news release, Walterboro, SC-based CER Trucking and Edward Risher Trucking, as well as Clarence Edward Risher Jr., who owned and drove for both companies, were declared to be an imminent hazard to public safety. All three parties have been ordered to cease operating.

On Nov. 27, Risher was driving a 2003 Peterbilt for CER Trucking – his father’s company – when he lost control and crossed the centerline of Virginia State Route 5 in Henrico County. The truck slammed into a 2002 Ford Mustang. The car’s driver died as a result of injuries from the wreck. Immediately after the wreck, Risher allegedly moved his truck and began updating his logbook, which authorities say wasn’t current or truthful.

Police officers responding to the wreck found an open container of alcohol, an unknown powdery substance, and “glass-like material believed to be methamphetamine,” a piece of foil with an unknown residue and a cigarette butt, and a white powder suspected to be cocaine, according to the order.

Virginia State Police have charged Risher with driving without a driver’s license, reckless driving, operating a commercial vehicle while disqualified, possession of alcohol and other violations in connection with the crash. One of Risher’s passengers was charged with possession of methamphetamine, and a second passenger was released at the scene.

Risher didn’t have a CDL at the time of the incident. South Carolina had suspended Risher’s license in 2010 after he had racked up numerous state and federal safety violations. FMCSA investigators say the company allowed a different driver to keep driving after he was convicted of marijuana possession while on duty – invalidating his CDL.

FMCSA said a third driver was allowed to drive for the company while not being medically qualified.

The investigation also revealed CER Trucking allegedly didn’t require its drivers to comply with federal hours-of-service requirements or mandatory alcohol and drug testing, FMCSA said in the release. The company couldn’t produce “any drivers’ records of duty status” or supporting documents, FMCSA said, and didn’t routinely inspect, maintain and repair its vehicles.

“FMCSA is working shoulder-to-shoulder with our state and local law partners to vigorously enforce commercial vehicle safety regulations,” FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said, according to the release. “It is unacceptable for a truck or bus company, or any of its drivers, to disregard the law and put the safety of every highway traveler at risk.”

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said commercial truck and bus companies and drivers that blatantly disregard safety regulations won’t be allowed to operate on U.S. roads and highways.

“There is no higher priority than safety,” Foxx said, according to the release.

The two companies haul refrigerated freight and general goods mainly throughout the southeast, the release states.

Because Risher Jr. is the sole proprietor of Edward Risher Trucking, his personal driving violations were extended to his company’s operations, FMCSA said.

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