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Truck speeding on rain slick freeway with bad brakes caused fiery pileup in tunnel

A trucker speeding on a rain-slick expressway caused the fiery chain reaction in a tunnel on I-5 just north of Los Angeles last year. The location on I-5 is near my son’s college apartment, so I have been by it many times. However, the case also has a local angle in metro Atlanta.

According to a report from California Highway Patrol investigators, Jose Reyes, 29, was driving at least 65 mph in the rain when his truck veered left and crashed into a concrete median wall after driving through the tunnel. The posted speed limit for that stretch of road is 55 mph, according to a report by Jack Leonard of the Los Angeles Times.

The resulting chain-reaction behind him killed a 6-year-old boy and two adults, and injured 10 others.

The report concluded that Saia Motor Freight Line Inc. was responsible for maintenance of the truck, and that the right front brake of the truck was not in working condition.

Saia Motor Freight Line Inc. is based right here in Fulton County, Georgia, in an office park in the suburb of Johns Creek, Georgia. According to USDOT information, it has 4,339 drivers and 3,552 motor units. While it has a “satisfactory” safety rating, in the past two years it has had 9 fatal crashes and 96 crashes with injuries.

On the face of the LA Times article, there appear to be at least three violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. I would bet there are more.

Ken Shigley is a Georgia trial lawyer focused on representation of plaintiffs in interstate and intrastate motor carrier (truck and bus) crashes. He is on the National Advisory Board for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America, and is actively involved in the Interstate Trucking Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. He is a former chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Litigation Institute, co-sponsored by the Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina Trial Lawyers Associations. Practicing statewide in Georgia, he also selectively participates in major cases in other states where he can be admitted pro hac vice. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a Master of the Lamar Inn of Court at Emory Law School, and was a faculty member for ten years at the Emory University Law School Trial Techniques Program. A member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, he has successfully tried trucking accident cases to multimillion dollar verdict. He frequently lectures on trucking litigation topics at national continuing legal education programs. Ken now serves as Secretary of the 40,000 member State Bar of Georgia, is a member of the Georgia Courts Automation Commission, chair of the Georgia Bar’s Electronic Court Filing Committee, and is a trustee of the Institute for Continuing Legal Education in Georgia, the Georgia Bar Foundation, and the Lawyers Foundation of Georgia.