A tractor-trailer driver faces eight years in prison for involuntary manslaughter after causing a bus crash that killed one passenger and injured seven others near the entrance to Fort Irwin National Training Center in the Mojave Desert.
Steven Kilty, 51, of Apache Junction, Arizona, was delivering a military tactical truck to the Army facility in the California desert in June 2014. He arrived at Fort Irwin the day before the scheduled delivery, so he parked the tractor-trailer in the right lane of Fort Irwin Road near a cluster of boulders painted by servicemembers called the “Painted Rocks,” where it remained overnight.
In the early morning darkness around 5 a.m., a Victor Valley Transit Authority bus transporting commuters to Fort Irwin rammed into the back of the tractor-trailer. The impact killed passenger Dail Keiper, 62, of Barstow, California, and seriously injured seven other passengers.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in an Oct. 3 statement that evidence presented at trial showed Kilty was “grossly negligent” in parking his tractor-trailer in the middle of the road overnight. According to prosecutors, Mr. Kilty turned off the tractor-trailer’s lights and neglected to put out safety triangular reflectors or use the truck’s hazard lights. He went to sleep in the berth of the truck while it was parked in the road.
Mr. Kilty was convicted of involuntary manslaughter on Oct. 2, bring to an end a five-day federal court trial. He faces a statutory maximum sentence of eight years in prison for the offense. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Mr. Kilty’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 7.
According to Victorville, California’s Daily Press, Mr. Keiper’s wife and son filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Mr. Kilty, the Victor Valley Transit Authority, and other companies connected to the commuter bus and tractor-trailer operations.
The Keipers filed the lawsuit in April 2015 in federal court but it was stayed pending the outcome of the criminal trial, the Daily Press reported.