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Houston carrier ordered to cease operating after probe of fatal crash

Carrier and driver declared imminent hazards after wreck that killed Tennessee police officer

Federal authorities declared Koboat Trucking and driver Christopher M. Savannah to be imminent hazards after a Feb. 3 crash that killed Sgt. Chris Jenkins of the Loudon County (Tennessee) Sheriff's Office. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has declared a Houston-based carrier an imminent hazard, citing numerous violations and charges against one of the company’s drivers in connection with a crash that killed a Tennessee sheriff’s sergeant. 

Koboat Trucking LLC was issued a federal out-of-service order on Friday forbidding the company to operate intrastate or interstate.

Christopher M. Savannah, a driver for Koboat Trucking, was involved in a Feb. 3 crash that killed Sgt. Chris Jenkins, an officer with the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities say Savannah was driving along Interstate 75 near Knoxville, Tennessee, when he failed to stop at a roadblock set up by Jenkins, who had activated the emergency lights in his patrol vehicle to retrieve a ladder that had fallen onto the roadway. 

Savannah struck two vehicles stopped ahead of the roadblock and then struck Jenkins, who had exited his patrol vehicle, according to the FMCSA.

Jenkins was killed, and the driver of another vehicle was injured.

Savannah, 43, has been charged with vehicular homicide by intoxication, vehicular homicide by recklessness, two counts of reckless endangerment, DUI, simple possession, possession of a handgun under the influence and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office.

An FMCSA investigation found Savannah did not have a CDL, was prohibited from operating commercial motor vehicles due to a previous positive drug test and was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the crash. 

The FMCSA declared Savannah an imminent hazard to public safety Feb. 17, forbidding him to operate a commercial truck.

A subsequent FMCSA review of Koboat Trucking found the motor carrier to be noncompliant with multiple safety regulations, including controlled substances and alcohol use and testing; CDL standards; driver qualification; drivers’ hours of service; and vehicle inspection, repair and maintenance.

Koboat Trucking is listed as having two trucks and two drivers, according to the FMCSA. The company had two dry van trailers and was listed as a hauler of general freight.

“Koboat Trucking took no action to ensure its driver was eligible to drive; had it done so, it would have discovered that the driver was not properly licensed, and was prohibited from driving its truck due to a drug test conducted in March 2020 that came back positive for marijuana,” the FMCSA said in a statement. “Koboat Trucking exercised virtually no oversight over its drivers or vehicles and thus abdicated all responsibility for safety.”

Officials for Koboat Trucking did not immediately respond to FreightWaves’ request for comment.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]