Woman sentenced to eight years for backward driving that killed trucker

By Land Line staff | Friday, March 11, 2016

A woman who caused a fatal crash with a Wal-Mart trucker by driving backward down the interstate will spend the next eight years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Leigh Veronica Miller, 25, of Little Rock, Ark., pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with the March 19, 2014, death of truck driver Terry Ray Harrell, of Jacksonville, Ark. Miller was sentenced by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Barry Sims. The charge carries a maximum 10-year sentence.

Miller entered a plea deal rather than stand trial, which was scheduled to commence on Wednesday.

Harrell, a married father of three with eight grandchildren, died one month after his 60th birthday, when Miller’s Chevrolet Impala crashed into his Freightliner tractor, igniting the rig’s gas tank. Harrell was eastbound on Interstate 440 in Little Rock, near Fourche Dam Pike, when Miller, driving backward, slammed into the tractor-trailer.

According to a report from Arkansas Online, a witness told police the car was driving in reverse at a high rate of speed and swerving on the highway near an exit ramp when the collision occurred. Miller initially told police she had pulled onto the shoulder after missing her exit. She also denied using drugs or alcohol, but the report states that court records showed Miller had a blood-alcohol level of .02, roughly one quarter of the .08 legal limit in Arkansas, and that she tested positive for marijuana, prescription tranquilizers and anxiety medications.

At the time of his death, Harrell had been driving for Wal-Mart for more than 23 years, where he’d logged more than 2 million miles.

In addition to Harrell's death, Miller fractured an arm in the collision. Also hurt were her passenger, Devontae Akins, 23; and a second truck driver, Jose Arellano, 40, of Mexico. Arellano was driving his tractor-trailer in the center lane when he was hit by Harrell’s burning truck after its collision with Miller, according to police reports.

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