Fate of the Crete driver from FLA

Discussion in 'Report A BAD Trucking Company Here' started by supersnackbar, Jun 25, 2008.

  1. supersnackbar

    supersnackbar Road Train Member

    Aug 19, 2007
    Your Town, USA
    I am not sure this is the proper section to post this, but in case anyone out there hasn't heard I'd like to pass on some info.

    The driver from Crete that was involved in that fatal crash in Fla a couple of years ago where the 7 kids were killed, plead no contest and received 7 years in prison. In exchange for being a witness for the prosecution in future cases.

    Everyone out there please keep in mind, not all of us Crete drivers are killers!!!! So keep your 'killer' comments to yourself please. I didn't do it, neither did the other 4999 Crete/Shaffer/Hunt drivers. Even though Crete's hiring policy has lessened lately, I don't think anyone could have seen this coming or done anything to prevent it, other than the one driver that was involved. One bad apple....etc.

    Hoppy Trails
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  3. MACK E-6

    MACK E-6 Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Baltimore, MD
    Not to worry, any "killer" comments and other so-called jokes posted here will be deleted.
  4. rixcamp

    rixcamp Light Load Member

    Jun 4, 2008
    Supersnackbar, One stupid or careless driver does not make a bad company. There's bad and good drivers in every company. It IS embarrassing when someone from your company does what he did, however. That's why I try my hardest to run legal and log legal. On the good side, ALL drivers can learn from a story like that. Thanks for the update.
  5. bbmyls2go

    bbmyls2go Medium Load Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Chattanooga, TN
    very one-sided, this article reveals the accusations by Wilkerson without any supporting information such as his actual driving schedule/logbook entries/ or GPS details. Somehow both he and the headline writer find a way to point a finger at Crete although it was Wilkerson who kept himself awake prior to his work shift, not a long workshift, that caused him to fall asleep at the wheel.
    Here is the article posted online around midnight Sunday 6/29/08

    Last modified 6/28/2008 - 11:31 pm
    Originally created 062908

    Trucker explained pressure to keep up
    Afraid of losing his route, Alvin Wilkerson stayed awake 34 hours before a crash that killed 7 children.

    By Paul Pinkham, The Times-Union

    LAKE BUTLER - A week before he fell asleep and killed seven Union County children in a 2006 crash, a Jacksonville trucker received a series of text messages from his boss at Crete Carrier Corp. urging him to pick up the pace."I need you to keep up or we will lose this lane," one says.

    "What is taking so long?" asks another.

    The messages were part of a three-hour sworn interview that truck driver Alvin Wilkerson gave prosecutors last month before pleading guilty to seven counts of vehicular manslaughter. Wilkerson, who'd been awake 34 hours when the crash occurred, told prosecutors he felt pressured to keep driving or risk losing a coveted route that kept him close to his family.

    "My company, they knew where I was. They knew what I was doing," Wilkerson, 33, said. "They didn't send me anything saying, 'Hey, this is wrong.' "

    Officials with Nebraska-based Crete didn't return several phone calls last week. The company has a satisfactory safety record from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Agency records show 459 Crete trucks have been involved in crashes, 12 fatal, during the past two years.

    A transcript of Wilkerson's statement was requested by the Times-Union after he was sentenced June 12 to seven years in prison. As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to testify in future proceedings.

    State Attorney William Cervone of Gainesville declined Thursday to discuss Wilkerson's statement or any further legal action.

    "We are considering what [legal] options are available," Cervone said. "One of the things we're trying to determine is who's done what and who has the authority to do what with the company. We've been focused up until now on Wilkerson."

    Cervone wouldn't disclose what options authorities are mulling, but they could include criminal charges against the company leading to potential fines or sanctions by federal regulatory agencies.

    After his plea, Wilkerson also gave a deposition in lawsuits filed by the crash victims' families against Crete. Lawyers for the families wouldn't discuss the case.

    Wilkerson told prosecutors May 7 that he drove extra routes hauling water between High Springs and Jacksonville because he didn't want to lose a route that allowed him to be home with his wife and children rather than driving cross-country. He said it wasn't about money - he got paid the same no matter how many routes he drove a day - but about his supervisor's fear that Crete could lose the route.

    "I wasn't under the impression that I was about to lose my job or lose my truck or nothing like that," he testified, without immunity. "I'm trying to make him look good and me look good so that this ... route can stay right here in Jacksonville."

    The pressure to keep up intensified the week before the crash, both in conversations with his supervisor and in the text messages sent to the truck, Wilkerson testified.

    "The accident occurred because I took on his problem and made it my problem," Wilkerson said. "He was 20 loads behind, and he said somebody ... was getting on his back and they were constantly telling him about losing the account. So I in return said that I've got to keep this account. It's getting me home every night."

    Wilkerson said the company had a positioning system that identified where his truck was whenever it was running. He said he had been criticized for sleeping too long on a previous run.

    The crash killed seven children when Wilkerson's 2004 Freightliner semi rolled over their car, which was behind a stopped school bus on Florida 121. Both vehicles crashed into the bus, and the car burst into flames.

    Wilkerson told prosecutors he remembers seeing the bus off in the distance but doesn't remember seeing the car. After the crash, he was accused of taking pictures with his cell phone, but he said he was frantically dialing his employer and family.


    Pushed to keep going

    Here is an excerpt from a three-hour sworn interview that truck driver Alvin Wilkerson gave prosecutors last month before pleading guilty to seven counts of vehicular manslaughter.

    Q: Now I'm going to show you page 899. The date of the message from John Graham to you is the 17th of January till about 12:08 Central Standard Time which would have been about 1 o'clock in the afternoon. The message from John, "Are you even going to be able to deliver a second load today? What's taking so long?" Take a look at this and tell me whether or not you recognize it?

    A: Yes, I recognize it.

    Okay, and did you get that message?

    Yes, ma'am.

    And based upon that message, did you feel an obligation to continue your driving and get the work done?

    Yes, ma'am.

    Even if it was going to put you outside of hours?

    Yes, ma'am.

    Even if you were tired?

    Well, yes.

    You would have pushed, you were going to push through, weren't you?

    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 29, 2008
  6. rixcamp

    rixcamp Light Load Member

    Jun 4, 2008
    From what the transcripts say in the previous post, Crete itself would appear culpable. It always comes down on the driver, since he or she has the option of saying NO to such aggressive dispatch tactics. Over the years, working for several companies, I've had that tried on me many times. I'd get a load that should have been sent to the truck hours earlier, the delivery time being impossible to make on time.
    My hours were too short to make the delivery on time, I'd tell my driver manager.
    He'd say take the load and do the best you can. Then, I'd arrive late, running legal,
    dispatch would put a service failure on me. I was danged if I took the load, and danged if I didn't. If I refused, they'd make me sit for a load.
    Trucking companies should be held responsible as well, when things like that accident happen. It is clear from the testimony that the driver was being pressured by dispatch.
    These days, if I don't have the hours to do the load, I refuse the load and take the "punishment" from dispatch. Because ultimately, the driver gets the blame. But I HAVE been in the same high pressure situation the Crete driver was in many times.
    With many companies, like I said, you're danged if you do, danged if you don't.
    There are companies out there that don't do that. Stay safe, fellow drivers.
  7. rixcamp

    rixcamp Light Load Member

    Jun 4, 2008
    BBMYLS, Do you have any info as to if Crete was held culpable? Just wondering, as I'd like to know more info about this case. We can all, as drivers, learn from a tradegy
    such as this one. Especially the newer drivers. You made a good point about the log
    entries, and GPS info. But like I said in my previous post, it all comes down on the driver.

    So we as drivers must try to prevent situations such as that one, before they unfold. It's not always easy, as most drivers know, to say NO to loads we can't do legally. But I do, now.
  8. pawpaw

    pawpaw Medium Load Member

    Apr 7, 2008
    Milan, NM
    I want to preface what I am going to say by stating that I have friends that drive for Crete. I hope that Crete is found culpable in this situation, Yes, the driver should have refused but, putting oneself in his shoes, you can see why he would keep going if he was being threatened with losing a sweet run. And I am sure now he wishes he had because he will have to live with the results of his decision well beyond the jail time. And he he will not see his family for some time.

    It points out the need for greater oversight of operations by the powers to be. We are the captain of the ship and should refuse ANY load that we cannot run perfectly legal. If a shipper loads us late than we MUST tell the company when we can safely and legally get the load there. If there is a problem with that then they need to get the driver to the closest point where a team operation can repower the load.

    This kind of pressure from a dispatcher has gone on for years and I can't help but wonder how many lives have been lost as a result. And along with that comes a black eye for the industry and the company involved. Then we get groups like Public Citizen trying to make our jobs more difficult then they should be.

    I am sure the dispatcher will be faulted and will be the next fall guy in this situation. Crete will say that he was acting outside normal policy and was in violation of Crete standards. However, he was most likely under pressure from corporate to keep this account.

    Thus, the best thing that can happen is that Crete is found culpable and slapped with major sanctions and a very hefty fine, PLUS heavy monetary awards to the families involved. They need to be made an example of so that every other company, dispatcher and driver can look at this situation and say, "We will only haul loads legally." If shippers start getting hit by complaints from receivers for getting their loads late then it might get the shippers to quit screwing around and get us loaded on time.

    It is NOT the job of the driver to make up for everyone else's mistakes. Why? Because, as in the case of Wilkerson, we will be the one behind bars and, worse yet, be in the prison of guilt for the rest of our lives for causing someone else to die, especially, as in this case, children. NO LOAD IS WORTH THAT!!!!
  9. Designors

    Designors Light Load Member

    Sep 23, 2007
    By the sounds of the article .... they went after the driver first .... easiest target .... and now are working on what to do with the company

    See who they can get and what they can do .... would be nice to see the dispatcher in prison also along with higher ups for pushing someone like this

    That is why they gave him a "lighter" sentence .... so that he will come back and testify against everyone at the company .... the dispatcher and others will be on the stand soon enough about this
  10. Designors

    Designors Light Load Member

    Sep 23, 2007
    With this accident also .... if it was a couple months before hand the kids would have been on that bus also .... we lived on that road for over a year down there

    That was the bus that they took to school each day .... so when it came over the news they knew a couple of the kids on there .... but that road is also notorious for speeding semis

    We lived in Worthington Springs .... just south of Lake Butler .... and you could here the semis racing down the road and hitting the jakes .... cars were good for pulling out in front of them

    But not to shift the blame .... but the parents I feel were to blame also ....they allowed a 14 or 15 year old wit no driving experience to drive the family to and from school .... and with all the kids in there that childs focus was on them not the road
  11. Nick352

    Nick352 Light Load Member

    Jun 19, 2008
    Neosho, Mo.
    Well I am real new in this, but it sounds like allot of companies out there are real poor in planning. Why would a dispatcher make promises to customers he could not keep?

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