A civil lawsuit over a tractor trailer crash that killed 10 people on an Oklahoma interstate last year has been settled for nearly $63 million, according to attorneys for both sides.
Attorneys representing eight of the victim’s families announced that a $62.7-million settlement had been reached on Wednesday, October 7, and covers those eight wrongful deaths and one personal injury claim. A lawsuit for family of the two other victims was settled previously.
The crash happened on June 26 of last year when 76-year-old Donald Creed, a driver for Kansas-based Associated Wholesale Grocers, drove his tractor trailer into a number of cars that were halted by traffic caused by an earlier accident on Will Rogers Turnpike near Miami, Oklahoma. Authorities called the crash the worst in Oklahoma history.
Creed pleaded guilty to 10 counts of negligent homicide for his role in the accident and received a 10-year probated sentence on top of 30 days he spent in jail. The victims’ families sued both Creed and his employer, asserting that Associate Wholesale Grocers failed to properly train and supervise Creed.
Federal investigators found the crash occurred because Creed had been suffering from fatigue associated with his work schedule. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Creed likely had less than five hours of sleep before starting his work route at 3 a.m. Creed had also been on the road for more than 10 hours when the crash occurred.
Creed has also been diagnosed with sleep apnea, a sleep disorder often linked to commercial vehicle accidents. Because of his fatigue, Creed failed to react to slowing and stopped traffic. The NTSB’s crash report says that Creed never applied the brakes or performed any evasive maneuvers to avoid crashing into the stalled vehicles.
Families of the victims say they hope the crash serves as a warning to commercial truck drivers and trucking companies that taking hours-of-service rules and other industry regulations too lightly can result in death and devastation.