Last week the news was reported about an accident on I-80 involving a tractor-trailer that killed three innocent people (Shirley Gilmore and two siblings) in 2010. I watched this closely because this past summer, on July 5, my father Bob Lucarell was killed on I-80 by a truck driver who crossed the median. I see now that there will be a study into whether the construction of the road is playing a role into these accidents. I can tell you that, in my father's case, the construction of the road had nothing to do with the driver responsible for his death. The driver had fallen asleep.
I read in the 2010 case that the truck driver failed to stop during a traffic delay. He received a paltry $500 fine, house arrest, and a suspended license for taking three lives that tragic day. It has been five months since my father's accident and to our knowledge the driver has not been charged. In addition to the sorrow and pain from losing him so violently and suddenly, it is my family's worst fear that his case will be judged similarly to the case this past week.
There are obvious problems when it comes to governing and prosecuting cases such as these. Large trucks dominate our roads in numbers and size. They require professional drivers and companies to follow a strict code of standards that ensure the safety of all who travel. Every year an average of 3,500 people die in collisions involving these large trucks and 86 percent of the deaths are the occupants of the much smaller passenger vehicles. Basically, what ever they hit they destroy. There is no room for error.
There are many causes of the errors, which can include distractions, fatigue, overloading and the list goes on and on. Infractions of common sense principals require harsh penalties because the outcomes are so devastating. When we see the responsible parties of these accidents getting sentenced like the driver in the Gilmore crash, it does little to deter these companies and their drivers to act more responsibly.
Human life is priceless and the current prosecuting standards are inadequate and insulting to the victims and their families. My father was a wonderful man who served his country, a loving and devoted husband, father and grandfather who was a good friend to all who new him. He was an innocent victim whose life was stolen from him by a man who ignored signs of fatigue that tragic day. His life was taken and the lives of those who loved him have been destroyed by a man who had numerous opportunities to stop and rest. The truck driver passed the Salt Springs exit with a truck stop just minutes before killing my father. Had he been motivated by a more strict set of standards, my father's life may have been spared. He deserves better, and it is my hope that our system be changed to honor those we have lost and to protect all of us when we travel.
My family and I will keep the Gilmore family in our thoughts and prayers during their tragic time of loss.
-- Robert Lucarell II, Hubbard