A truck driver from Jacksonville has been charged with vehicular manslaughter after an investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) of a deadly truck accident over the summer. According to the Baker County Press, on June 21, 34-year-old Amos Roger Smith, Jr was driving his truck when he allegedly ran a red light and struck the side of a car. The passenger, 47-year-old Paul Donald Vanness of North Dakota, died at the scene. The driver, 74-year-old Carolyn P. Vanness, sustained multiple non-life-threatening injuries.
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Smith is reported to have been driving his 2005 Volvo tractor pulling a box trailer at around 18 miles per hour over the speed limit when he got in the accident on US-90. Two weeks after a warrant was issued for his arrest, he turned himself in to the sheriff’s office. He remains in county jail on $300,000 bond. Smith allegedly was released from Shands Jacksonville Medical Center just hours before the truck crashafter being diagnosed with depression. In addition, tests indicated that Smith had anti-anxiety medication in his blood, but it was not concentrated enough to be deemed impairing to his driving.
Both passengers of the car were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident. Carolyn Vanness sustained two broken ribs and a broken ankle that required surgery from the accident. The victim, Paul Vanness, was in town for the funeral of his father, which had taken place the previous day. The police affidavit alleges that Amos Smith was “knowingly driving in a reckless, willful and wanton manner” with no regard for the safety of persons and property.
Trucks are large and difficult to maneuver, and therefore are inherently dangerous. There are around 3.7 million commercial truck drivers operating vehicles in the United States, so there is no shortage of trucking accidents in the country. According to the NHTSA, in 2009, 74,000 people were injured and 3,380 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks. If you or a loved one has been involved in a trucking or automobile accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.