A tractor-trailer driver who crashed into a line of traffic on an Indiana interstate last month, killing four children and severely injuring their father, has been declared an “imminent hazard to public safety” and barred from driving any commercial vehicle.

Corey Withrow, 31, of Camden, Ohio, was driving a tractor-trailer on I-70 east on July 9 when he plowed into traffic that had slowed in a construction zone near Cambridge City, Indiana. Withrow’s truck slammed into the back of a Chevy Impala, pushing it into the back of another tractor trailer.

Withrow’s tractor-trailer was traveling at 72 mph when it collided with the car.

The collision killed four children, all younger than 16. The children’s father, who was driving the car, was pulled from the burning vehicle by a bystander and survived with severe burn injuries, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Withrow told Indiana State Police officers that he had been distracted by his cell phone. Toxicology tests later found him to be positive for amphetamines, methylenedioxy-methamphetamine and cannabis.

Indiana authorities arrested Withrow and charged him with four counts of reckless homicide, four counts of causing death when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, and one count of causing catastrophic injury when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

According to The Palladium-Item, Withrow’s employer, Barnets, Inc., of Camden, Ohio, has a satisfactory federal safety rating with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “Satisfactory” is the highest rating a commercial carrier can have under the FMCA’s system. The other two categories are conditional and unsatisfactory.

Withrow had a record of previous drug-related felony convictions but was properly licensed at the time of the crash. Previous felony convictions do not disqualify a person from obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL), the Palladium-Item reported, citing the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles website.

The July 9 crash was the seventh federally reportable accident in 25 months for Barnets tractor-trailer drivers. Three of the six previous reportable accidents resulted in injury but none resulted in a fatality. Under the FMCSA, reportable accidents are those that cause at least one death or injury or require a wrecker to remove at least one vehicle.

According to the FMCSA, there were 177,942 accidents involving commercial trucks and buses in 2019, resulting in 94,971 injuries and 4,937 deaths.

Truck accident litigation

As this story demonstrates, truck accidents are complicated scenes often involving a number of factors. When investigating a claim related to an 18-wheeler or other heavy truck accident, it is imperative to have knowledge of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, technology, business practices, insurance coverages, and to have the ability to discover written and electronic records. Expert testimony is of utmost importance. Accidents involving semi-trucks and passenger vehicles often result in serious injuries and wrongful death. Trucking companies and their insurance companies almost always quickly send accident investigators to the scene of a truck accident to begin working to limit their liability in these situations. Our lawyers, staff and in-house accident investigators immediately begin the important task of documenting and preserving the evidence.

Truck accident lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Montgomery and Atlanta offices have experience in handling these types of claims. For more information, contact Chris Glover, Mike Crow, Donovan Potter or Parker Miller. They would be happy to provide more information or work with you on a claim.

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