The owner of a Kentucky-based trucking company filed for bankruptcy protection following a slew of lawsuits filed after one of his drivers was convicted of causing a fatal crash that killed six people in June 2015.
Billy Ray Sizemore, owner of Cool Runnings Express Inc. of London, Kentucky, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection Oct. 1, according to documents filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.
In his filing, Sizemore listed his assets of $101,423 and liabilities of $331.3 million.
The Cool Runnings’ telephone number wasn’t working on Oct. 17 when FreightWaves reached out for a comment regarding the company’s bankruptcy filing.
The company listed that it had five employees prior to its closing. Records did not list the number of trucks formerly operated by the company.
One of Sizemore’s truck drivers, Benjamin Brewer, was sentenced to 55 years in prison without the possibility of parole after a jury convicted him of causing the fatal crash in a work zone on Interstate 75 near Chattanooga, Tennessee, that killed six people, including two children on June 25, 2015. Four others were injured in the 18-vehicle crash.
According to Cool Runnings’ Chapter 7 filing, it states that 10 lawsuits have been filed against the small carrier stemming from the crash.
Through its investigation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that Brewer had falsified his records-of-duty status prior to the crash, stating that he was off duty from June 15-25, but the vehicle’s tracking system showed that he had been on duty and driving on June 22-24.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation found that Brewer had illegally used methamphetamine prior to the crash and “its effects degraded his driving performance.”
The NTSB also found that Brewer was driving 78-82 mph in the work zone, which “significantly hindered his ability to react in time to take evasive action” to avoid hitting the slow-moving vehicles ahead of him.
Kentucky is one of two states that doesn’t automatically include crash data in driver records for potential employers to review. Records showed that Brewer had been involved in four crashes in the previous three years, two of which were in commercial vehicles.