Following a tragic trucking accident, driver Lei Sun has been charged with two counts of first degree involuntary manslaughter. In March, Sun crashed into three vehicles that were stopped at a traffic light. Two cars were smashed between two semis and the drivers of the two smaller vehicles, Corey Gresham and Lawrence “Mike” Coan, were killed. The accident occurred near Republic, MO, on U.S. 60.
A Missouri Highway Patrol investigator revealed during the hearing that Sun’s truck, which was owned by Daniel Orchard Transportation, had issues with both its tires and brakes. Trooper E.J. Walker stated that Sun was issued citations for those problems after the crash.
A wrongful-death lawsuit has been filed against Sun and Daniel Orchard Transportation by Gresham’s family. The Coans attended the criminal hearing. For the charge of involuntary manslaughter in the first degree, attorneys must prove the defendant acted with “reckless disregard.” Allegations against Sun state that he violated the law for the number of hours driven, failed to apply the truck’s brakes, and was driving in excess of the posted speed limit.
According to the testimony of two Missouri Highway Patrol investigators, Sun was driving between 50 and 59 mph in a 40 mph zone. The analysis of the truck’s on-board computer showed that Sun did not apply the brakes prior to the impact. In addition, Sun’s logbook, fuel receipts, and toll booth receipts indicate that the logbook was falsified by Sun and in just seven consecutive days, he had driven over 70 hours.
Another investigator stated that Sun said he believed the first semi was going to go through the intersection, despite the fact that it had just turned red. He didn’t, however, mention the two cars which were behind that trailer and in front of him. The defendant’s attorney argued that the crash was not the result of “reckless disregard” but was simply an accident.
Trucking regulations are designed to help prevent accidents such as these but cannot do so if truckers disregard laws and regulations and falsify log books. In light of the testimony, the Judge ruled that the first-degree charges could remain intact as the case goes to trial court. Arraignment was scheduled for May 24.