A tractor-trailer driver with a history of traffic violations has pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter for allegedly causing a February 2017 crash in Missouri that killed another motorist.
Driver Narinder Singh, 46, was transporting about 22,000 pounds of hamburgers and cheeseburgers for the fast-food chain White Castle when his truck overturned on I-44 in southwestern Missouri. The accident killed David Lambeth, 43, whose pickup truck was partially crushed by the overturned tractor-trailer.
A lawsuit filed against Mr. Singh, White Castle, and others by Mr. Lambeth’s widow asserts that Mr. Singh is too dangerous to drive a tractor-trailer, citing a dozen traffic convictions prior to the Feb. 16 crash.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, Mr. Singh has “been convicted of leaving the scene of a crash, speeding six times, failing to obey traffic signs twice, having defective equipment, failing to appear in court and driving while suspended, court documents show, and those convictions came from six different states.”
Missouri State Highway Patrol investigators found that on the day of the fatal crash, another fatal traffic crash had occurred on I-44 earlier in the day. Authorities put out signs and emergency response trucks to warn drivers to slow down for slowed or stopped traffic.
Mr. Singh was driving on westbound I-44 to California around that time, but he failed to slow his tractor-trailer despite the signs. When he suddenly came upon a lane of stopped traffic, he swerved and struck the rear of another tractor-trailer.
The collision caused Mr. Singh to lose control of his truck. He jackknifed and skidded onto the median. At that point his tractor-trailer flipped over onto Mr. Lambeth’s Ford pickup truck.
Mr. Singh told investigators that a car cut him off, causing him to lose control of the tractor-trailer, but several witnesses who gave accounts of the crash did not report a car cutting off the tractor-trailer.
Court records show Mr. Singh entered an Alford plea to second-degree manslaughter, maintaining his innocence while acknowledging that enough evidence exists for a criminal conviction. Such a plea could allow him to maintain his innocence in the civil lawsuit.
If convicted, Mr. Singh could be sentenced to probation and a suspended imposition of sentence to 120 days of jail time.