Driver Faces Federal Charges After Fatal Pennsylvania Truck Accident
In January 2009, 57-year-old Valerijs Belovs was driving a semi-truck with faulty brakes outside of Philadelphia. When rounding a curve on the I-76 expressway, Belovs saw that traffic had halted but was unable to stop his large tractor trailer, which was carrying a load of produce to New Jersey.
The truck slammed into stopped traffic, killing 49-year-old David Schreffler. Recently, Belovs pled guilty to vehicular homicide and now faces federal charges due to 15 falsified entries made in his logbook prior to the 2009 truck crash.
Federal prosecutors discovered that Belovs had made entries reporting that he was resting when he was actually driving. Belovs was most likely attempting to skirt around the trucking safety rule that no driver can be driving for more than eleven hours a day without resting for ten hours.
Prosecutors also discovered that Belovs had a falsified inspection sticker on his rig at the time of the 2009 crash. Belovs admitted to buying the sticker from a mechanic without ever getting an inspection of his truck or the faulty brakes that likely contributed to the fatal truck accident. Joseph Jadczak, owner of Pratt Auto Service in Philadelphia, admitted to selling the sticker to Belovs and was sentenced to three to twenty-three months in prison.
The owner of the truck, Victor Kalinitchii, also pled guilty to vehicular homicide. Kalinitchii allegedly ordered Belovs to continue with his delivery with the rig fully knowing that the brakes were not up to standards.
This case is the first of its kind where both the truck driver and the inspection operator were charged with vehicular homicide.
Common Causes of Trucking Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that one in nine traffic fatalities involved a large truck in 2008. Though most accidents involving big rigs are due to passenger vehicle drivers’ errors, there are some common safety issues concerning truck drivers.
Often truckers have received inadequate training concerning driving defensively and safety hazards. Many truck drivers push speeds to a limit that is unsafe for themselves and other drivers. Sometimes this is due to the system of compensation in place within the trucking industry that encourages drivers to go faster and cover more miles in a day than is safe.
Pennsylvania has suffered a long, hard winter with snowstorm after snowstorm. The Governor has, at least once, personally asked trucks to stay off the state’s roadways due to icy conditions. Adverse weather can result in loss of visibility, traction, and braking ability.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a truck accident, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable motor vehicle accident attorney. A lawyer will help you investigate the cause of the serious or fatal truck accident and bring legal action against the at-fault party.