A father and son who have been operating as a commercial passenger transportation team have been ordered to cease all interstate and intrastate commercial driver after federal safety regulators declared them to be an “imminent hazard to public safety.” The federal order follows a June 18 crash that left six passengers dead.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Wenceslao Cruz Marquez and his son, Hugo Cruz operated a passenger carrier service although neither of the men possessed a commercial driver’s license.
On the day of the accident, Mr. Cruz was driving a pickup truck loaded with passenger luggage while his father followed in a 15-passenger van loaded with 16 passengers. The van and truck were traveling from North Carolina to New Jersey.
In Virginia, Mr. Marquez fell asleep behind the wheel and veered off the interstate, causing the passenger van to roll over at least six times. Investigators found that six people had been thrown from the vehicle in the rollover because the seatbelts in the back row were inoperable. All six passengers, including a 5-year-old child, were pronounced dead at the scene.
The FMCSA said that Mr. Marquez’s passenger van was uninsured at the time of the crash. In addition to being uninsured, unlicensed, and unqualified, Mr. Marquez and Mr. Cruz were found to be in violation of federal hours-of-service (HOS) rules designed to keep fatigued drivers from operating motor vehicles.
The agency issued the imminent hazard / out-of-service orders to Marquez and Cruz on July 7 and July 6, respectively, citing their “blatant disregard of federal safety regulations” as the cause of the deadly crash and reason for the order.
Any violation of the federal order could result in penalties of up to $25,000 and criminal charges.