A road rage incident involving four truckers and spanning over 90 miles ended with a fatal accident, a jailed trucker, and now a payment of $25 million from one of the trucking companies responsible for the crash.
The whole incident started on I-84 in Idaho on June 1st, 2016. Jonathan Hogaboom, a driver for IN-based Horizon Transport, was driving a luxury $750,000 motorhome. According to Peter Barnes, a driver for UT-based Smoot Brothers, Hogaboom pulled his RV in front of Barnes’ truck and slammed on the brakes.
Over the course of the next 90 miles, Cory Frew and James Decou, two other Smoot Brothers drivers also got involved in the road-rage battle. All four drivers were allegedly involved in speeding, honking, brake-checking, and cutting each other off.
This lasted until 8:45pm. On a winding two-lane stretch of Highway 20 West near Burns, Oregon, the incident came to a tragic end. In his flatbed Decou attempted to illegally pass Hogaboom’s RV. According to The Oregonian, Hogaboom sped up to keep Decou from passing him, and then slowed down to prevent him from getting back in the westbound lane. It was then that a Ford Focus driven by Sara Allison came around a bend in the road.
Allison’s car smashed head-on into Decou’s flatbed. The collision killed her and severely wounded her husband who was a passenger in the car.
Decou pled guilty to second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 75 months in prison. He and the other Smoot Brothers drivers were fired and the company acknowledged their role in the accident.
Hogaboom left the scene of the accident. Horizon Transport denied wrongdoing and in court documents argued that Smoot Brothers was trying to scapegoat their driver.
Both companies were sued by Matthew Allison on behalf of himself and his wife’s estate. On May 10th a jury found that the negligence of the trucking companies and their drivers had caused the crash. They awarded Matthew Allison $7.6 million and his wife’s estate $12.38 million. In addition, the jury ordered Smoot Brothers to pay $1.5 million in punitive damages and Horizon Transport to pay $5 million in punitive damages.
Unbeknownst to the jury however, Smoot Brothers had settled with Allison for $900,000 shortly before the trial ended. This leaves Horizon Transport solely responsible for around $25 million of the $26.5 million verdict.
Horizon maintains that it has been used as a scapegoat, but Hogaboom no longer works for the company. He now drives for Swift Transportation.