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Driver allegedly watching Netflix says phone “was in the back of the truck”

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A truck driver allegedly watching Netflix at the time of a deadly wreck says that his phone “was in the back of the truck” at the time of the crash. 

The August 2023 accident occurred on Interstate 35 south of Faribault, Minnesota. 55-year-old truck driver Billie Joe Grimes was charged for the incident on Friday, April 26th. 

According to ABC 5, Grimes was on his way to Rogers to make a delivery when he encountered slowed traffic due to a nearby construction zone. Grimes first hit a Toyota Camry occupied by Matthew and Cimberly Hansen, sending the car into a nearby ditch. Grimes then struck a pickup pulling a flatbed trailer. Grimes was traveling at 68 mph at the time of the crash. 

The Hansens were killed in the accident. The pickup driver sustained minor injuries. 

Grimes denies being on his phone at the time of the wreck, but says that he was downloading an episode of “Rust Valley Restorers” on Netflix at the time of the accident. A witness at the scene claims that they heard Grimes talking on the phone following the wreck, and that he admitted to being distracted while looking down at his radio. 

“The phone was on, but it was in the back of the truck,” Grimes said. “I had left it there on that morning.”

Audio collected from Grimes’ dash camera was found to be from a show called “Should I Stay Or Should I Go.” Officers also found two episodes downloaded on Grimes’ phone, but neither was from “Rust Valley Restorers.”

The prosecution states that Grimes was “watching a Netflix show as he approached stopped or slow-moving traffic as he approached a construction zone,” prosecutors concluded in their complaint. “The defendant was distracted to the extent that he failed to apply the brakes before he crashed into the Toyota and killed [the Hansens].”

Grimes claims that the crash was caused by a driver ahead of him making an abrupt lane change, which is why everybody slammed on the brakes.”

“I just didn’t have time to stop,” Grimes said. “I didn’t have time to react, and I couldn’t stop the truck. … I couldn’t stop ’cause [the truck was loaded].” 

Dash cam footage allegedly shows the Hansens’ car moving into the right lane before the crash but “there were no vehicles making any abrupt lane changes,” the complaint stated. 

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