A commercial truck driver faces seven serious criminal charges, including second-degree murder, after his 18-wheeler lost its brakes on a steep mountain highway near Los Angeles and plowed into traffic, killing a 12-year-old girl and her father.
Jurors began deliberating Thursday morning after hearing the emotionally charged case, which involves Marcos Costa, a 46-year-old immigrant from Brazil and resident of Everett, Mass., who was driving a 25-ton car hauler though the San Gabriel Mountains in April 2009. According to his attorney, Mr. Costa was on a cross-country trip when he ventured onto the Angeles Crest Highway, a steep and winding road that he had never driven before. Mr. Costa claims he was only following his GPS. His lawyer argues that no signs were posted barring heavy trucks from the dangerous highway.
The truck eventually lost its brakes and careened down 1.5 miles of the highway before crashing into traffic and killing Angel George Posca, 58, and his daughter Angelina Posca of Palmdale, Calif. The truck then ran into a bookstore in the La Canada Flintridge community. Three other people were injured in the crash.
Prosecutors say that shortly after Mr. Costa got on the highway, an off-duty firefighter warned him that the road was too dangerous for an 18-wheeler and suggested he turn around. However, Mr. Costa chose to continue along his route. Prosecutors asserted the defendant’s judgment constitutes gross negligence, especially since he stopped to pour water onto his smoking brakes but did not allow them to cool before continuing.
According to the Associated Press, Mr. Costa’s defense attorney pinned the cause of the fatal crash on “insidious geography” and the absence of runaway truck safety ramps. He added that the truck’s brakes passed a safety inspection in Florida a few weeks prior to the crash. Most significantly, however, jurors heard how 10 previous accidents occurred on that same stretch of road, including one in the exact spot as Mr. Costa’s crash, yet none of the drivers were charged with murder despite numerous injuries and deaths.