Yesterday, the FMCSA announced it has put the brakes on Illinois driver Renato V. Velasquez, declaring the driver “an imminent hazard to public safety.”
The FMCSA has ordered Velasquez to not operate any CMV in interstate commerce.
The order comes after a crash that killed an Illinois Tollway worker and severely injured an Illinois state trooper.
On January 27, 2014, 39-year-old Tollway worker Vincent Petrella and trooper Douglas Balder were stopped on the shoulder of I-88, helping a truck driver who was parked in the emergency lane.
Flashing lights from Balder’s vehicle warned other drivers away.
DND International driver Renato V. Velasquez, 46, was driving behind another truck. As the two trucks approached the trooper’s car, the truck ahead of Velasquez moved out of the left lane. Velasquez did not.
Velasquez’s truck veered out of his lane and slammed into the trooper’s car.
Balder’s vehicle exploded into flames. The severely injured trooper managed to crawl from his vehicle. Sadly, Petrella died at the scene.
Velasquez suffered minor injuries and the other driver was not injured.
Investigators learned that Velasquez had been on duty for 37.5 hours and had only rested for 3.5 hours.
While probing Velasquez’s record, WLS Chicago found that in 2001, Velasquez was convicted of delivering a kilo of cocaine. He served time in prison for the conviction.
WLS reported that at the time of the crash, Velasquez was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
FMCSA investigators found that during a period of 26-hours, Velasquez operated a tractor-trailer for approximately 1,000 miles and only rested 3-1/2 to 5-1/2 hours.
“This heart-breaking and senseless crash has forever changed the lives of many families,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “Commercial drivers that knowingly jeopardize innocent lives by violating safety standards and attempt to cover up their illegal behavior should have no doubt that we will vigorously enforce all federal safety regulations to the fullest extent possible by law.”
Velasquez has been charged by Illinois authorities with multiple felony violations. The investigation remains open.