Truck driver distracted by ELD facing life in prison for crash that killed one

A truck driver is now facing potential life in prison for a fatal wreck caused by distracted driving. 

The wreck happened on March 2nd on Interstate 35 in McClain County, Oklahoma. 

According to News 9, 58-year-old truck driver Johnny Spradlin was traveling north on a crowded I-35 when he entered a construction zone. 

Police say that Spradlin was looking down, distracted by his electronic logbook, as the vehicles around him began to slow. Spradlin then crashed into the back of a slow-moving 2016 Chevy Traverse at 60 mph before skidding into another nearby semi truck. 

The 63-year-old motorist, Julia Kraus, died in the wreck and was pronounced dead on scene. Her husband, who was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the wreck, was also injured in the crash. 

No other injuries were reported and Mr. Kraus survived his injuries. 

“He (Spradlin) was distracted,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Shayne Ballard said of the incident.  “He said he looked down at this electronic log book for a brief moment, looked back up and didn’t realize traffic had stopped.” 

Police say that Spradlin had a blood alcohol level of .03 at the time of the wreck. This number falls below Oklahoma’s legal limit of .08.

Spradlin was initially charged with 1 count of negligent homicide for the incident, but is now facing the more serious charge of manslaughter. If convicted, Spradlin could serve anywhere from four years to life in prison. 

Oklahoma Highway Patrol urges other drivers to see this situation as a warning and a lesson on how dangerous distracted driving can be. 

“Anytime you are driving a vehicle that is going to be a huge difference in weight to a passenger car, it is going to cause some serious injury or potentially death anytime you run into someone else on the roadway,” Ballard said. 

“If you see backed up traffic, you need to pay attention because traffic could be at a complete stop before you know it and your life could change in seconds.”

DISTRACTED SEMI DRIVER KILLS WOMAN ON I-35: Investigators said a truck driver was driving distracted on Interstate 35…

Posted by KWTV – NEWS 9 on Friday, November 6, 2020