The truck driver responsible for a crash that killed 6 people on Interstate 65 in Kentucky has been placed out-of-service by the FMCSA. In addition, the agency also issued an OOS order to the driver’s employer, Michigan-based carrier Highway Star.
The order demands the driver, Ibrahim Fetic, to immediately cease operations and declares the driver and carrier an imminent hazard to the public’s safety.
According to the order, Highway Star Inc., failed to ensure its drivers complied with federal safety regulations. The order states that Highway Star, Inc. failed to monitor its drivers’ record of duty status and compliance with HOS rules.
On March 2, 2013, Fetic’s truck struck a Ford Expedition in the rear, causing it to strike another vehicle. The Expedition then burst into flames. 62-year-old James Gallnow, 62-year-old Barbara Gollnow, 92-year-old Marion Champnise, 18-year-old Sarina Gollnow, and James and Barbara’s foster children; 10-year-old Gabriel Zumig and 8-year-old Soledad Smith died at the scene.
The couple’s other foster children, 15-year-old Hope Hoth and 12-year-old Aidian Ejnik, survived but were transported to local hospitals with severe injuries.
Kentucky State Police Master Trooper Norman Chaffins reported that Fetic saw the SUV but was traveling too closely to avoid the collision.
The truck driver is “telling us that he saw the vehicle that was in front of him and he hit the brakes and he didn’t hit them in time,” Chaffins said. “ … There was a reason for that and we’re trying to figure out what the reason was.”
According to the out-of-service order, the Kentucky State Police found 2 sets of logs in Fetic’s truck.
The FMCSA began an investigation of Highway Star following the fatal wreck. When investigators compared Highway Star’s GPS records to the drivers’ logs, they found that Highway Star’s drivers falsified their logs at a rate of 47.3% and that Fetic falsified his logs at a rate of 67.6%. The investigation revealed that all eight of the driver’s logs that were examined were falsified.
Investigators compared Fetic’s GPS, fuel receipts and other documents for the 8 days prior to the fatal crash and found that Fetic was on-duty and driving for 88.25 hours during the 8-day span of time leading up to the crash.
“The Michigan Division also found that HIGHWAY STAR, INC. does not require its drivers to submit records of duty status within 13 days of completion…The investigation found that four of the eight drivers in the sample had missing records of duty status,” the out-of-service order states.
“The compliance review revealed that HIGHWAY STAR, INC. lacks a system that can effectively prevent log falsification. Log falsification is a primary means by which drivers violate the hours of service regulations that are designed to prevent driver fatigue. The extent of falsifications were discovered out of 249 records checked (this does not include Mr. Fetic’s records of duty status) . 223 falsifications were discovered out of 34 checked. 3 The investigation revealed 29 violations out of 210 records checked, a violation rate of 13.8%,” the order states.
“Today’s action reinforces our commitment to setting a high safety bar for those operating in the motor carrier industry,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “It sends a strong and important message that companies and drivers who blatantly disregard safety will be found and removed from the road.”