A Missouri commercial truck driver who was killed Feb. 13 when he failed to stop for stalled traffic and collided with three other tractor-trailers on an Ohio highway worked for a commercial trucking company with a substantial record of violations and crashes.
Theodore Stocker III was driving a tractor-trailer for Swift Transportation, a large trucking company headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, along Interstate 70. About two miles inside Preble County, Ohio, Mr. Stocker’s truck slammed into the back of a flatbed trailer and two other semi-trucks.
A fourth commercial semi-truck was also involved in the collision, but the vehicle sustained only minor damage and the driver was able to drive away from the scene.
The trucks Mr. Stocker collided with were at the end of a long line of traffic that had stalled on the interstate due to a crash across the border in Indiana involving another tractor trailer. Traffic along I-70 west was either stopped or crawling along at 1 mph when Mr. Stocker ran into the back of the other trucks. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Two other commercial truck drivers were flown by CareFlight medical helicopter to Miami Valley Hospital where they were treated for serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Mr. Stocker and the driver of one of the trucks he struck were trapped in their vehicles.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Kyle Harris told The Palladium-Item that speed appeared to be a factor in the crash and that it looked like Mr. Stocker “never touched his brakes” before hitting the back of the flatbed trailer. The impact pushed the tractor trailers across all westbound lanes of the interstate.
According to WDTN Channel 2 Dayton, in the last two years, Swift Transportation trucks were involved in 650 crashes, with about one in 10 of those resulting in a death. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shows that the company operates a fleet of 17,814 vehicles and employs 21,613 drivers.
Swift Transportation trucks were inspected 41,207 times in the 24 months, with 3 percent of those resulting in safety violations.