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La Crosse company faces lawsuits; trucker faces criminal charges

It was almost a year ago that a tractor-trailer smashed at highway speed into vehicles that had come to a halt in a traffic jam.

Survivors of the violent truck accident and families of the victims killed in the crash have wondered that whole time why the trucker employed by a La Crosse company was going 68 miles per hour when he hit the cars ahead of him.

After a recent court hearing, they now know the trucker had allegedly been driving all night and was fatigued. He also was reportedly reaching for an energy drink on the floor of the truck's cab; when he looked back up, traffic ahead had halted and there was no time for him to bring his semi to a stop.

Prosecutors also claimed the trucker wasn't wearing the corrective lenses required for him to drive. He had just passed a lit traffic sign warning of a lane closure.

What made matters in the immediate aftermath of the crash even worse was that the vehicles rammed from behind by the La Crosse truck were slammed into a big rig stopped ahead of them; that truck carried dozens of crates of bees.

The swarms of released bees hindered first responders trying to help accident victims and others caught in the chain-reaction collision.

In the recent court hearing held near Lakeville, Minn., where the crash took place, the trucker was indicted on three counts of vehicular homicide. Two women were killed; one of the women was pregnant.

The trucker and company he works for are also facing wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Semi driver indicted in deadly Lakeville crash" by Joy Powell: May 2, 2011

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