A family whose daughter and grandchildren were killed when a truck driver had a seizure at the wheel is looking to change the rules surrounding CDL holders and epilepsy.
Kimberly, 5-year-old Solomon, and 3-year-old Tova were killed in a crash on Interstate 10 in Arizona back in August of 2018. During that crash, truck driver Bradley Cooley had a seizure behind the wheel, sending his truck across a median and into oncoming traffic where it struck multiple cars and caught fire. To this day, Cooley says that he “didn’t know what happened that day.”
ABC 15 reports that Cooley had a history of seizures at the time of the wreck, and has even been accused of forging documents to keep his CDL despite the medical events. The parents of the woman killed in the wreck, the Frankels, say that their tragic loss demonstrates a gap in federal oversight when it comes to CDLs.
Although people officially diagnosed with epilepsy are typically prohibited from obtaining a CDL, drivers in most states are not required to report when or if they’ve had a seizure, and doctors and medical professionals are not required to notify transportation officials if their patient has had one. Only six states have mandatory reporting laws for medical professionals when it comes to seizures.
Documents reveal that Cooley denied having seizures or epilepsy during multiple medical evaluations as a way to keep his CDL, and did not list anti-seizure medications he was prescribed and actively taking.
Now, Cooley is facing three criminal charges for allegedly forging multiple documents to keep his CDL, but is not facing charges for the deadly crash specifically. The forgery charges were not issued until 2021.
“The judge determined that the evidence presented did not provide probable cause to support the warrant, so it was not issued,” the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said in a statement. They also stated that there was not enough evidence to support that it was a seizure that caused Cooley to crash.
Despite the accident, Cooley says he hopes to get his CDL back someday.
“At some point in time, yes,” Cooley said. “That’s [driving trucks] what I’ve done my whole life.”
The Frankels say Cooley’s intention to get his CDL back someday is just another example of why “more needs to be done” to address the problem of epilepsy in trucking.
“So it doesn’t happen to another family,” Pearl Frankel said. “So they don’t go through what we went through. What we are still going through.”