Trucker in I-88 fatal crash found guilty on most counts

By Land Line staff | Friday, February 27, 2015

An Illinois-licensed truck driver was found guilty Thursday of multiple charges for his role in a 2014 fiery crash that killed an Illinois tollway worker and severely injured a state trooper.

Renato V. Velasquez, 47, was convicted of one felony count of operating a commercial motor vehicle under impairment or fatigue, two felony counts of failure to comply with hours of service requirements following a bench trial in Circuit Court of DuPage County, Ill.

In addition to the felony charges – which carry sentences of probation to up to three years in prison, Judge Robert Kleeman found Velasquez guilty of traffic offenses including one count of failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident and one count of failure to yield to emergency vehicles.

Velasquez was behind the wheel of a tractor trailer that plowed into an Illinois State Police vehicle and a Tollway vehicle at 9:20 p.m. on Jan. 27, 2014, after both drivers had pulled over to assist another semi-driver. The fiery crash killed 39-year-old Tollway worker Vincent Petrella and severely injured 38-year-old state trooper Douglas Balder. The crash occurred on Interstate 88 outside of Naperville. The emergency vehicles were fully illuminated and warning signs were activated prior to the crash.

FMCSA safety investigators found that prior to the crash Velasquez violated federal hours-of-service regulations designed to prevent fatigue and falsified his logbooks with the intent of concealing the number of hours he worked.

The FMCSA investigators concluded that for a period of 26 hours during Jan. 26-27 Velasquez operated a tractor-trailer for approximately 1,000 miles, resting only between 3.5 and 5.5 hours – well short of the federally required rest period.

According to a report in the Chicago Daily Herald, the judge ruled prosecutors did not meet the burden of proof in regards to Velasquez falsifying his travel logs, and found him not guilty. Velasquez’s next court date will be March 23.

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