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Truck driver – 5 years for 2017 accident that killed 5

A Colorado-based truck driver was sentenced last week in a Kansas courtroom to five years in jail for a crash that killed five people back in 2017.

According to numerous press reports, the 59-year-old driver, Kenny Ford, was behind the wheel of a Freightliner truck when he failed to slow for stalled traffic on Interstate 70 in Kansas, near the city of Bonner Springs. Prosecutors said Ford did not slow down as he approached the stalled traffic.

He had pleaded no contest to five counts of vehicular homicide, according to the news reports. There was no evidence of drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the crash.

According to an account of the crash in the Kansas City Star, Ford was driving for Indian Creek Express of Colorado when he failed to notice a backup on the interstate near 174th Street in Bonner Springs, about 20 miles west of Kansas City. According to the Star, Ford’s truck first hit an SUV driven by Teresa Butler of Illinois, which sent the car spinning into a retaining wall. That killed Butler and a passenger, Karen Lynn Kennedy, also of Illinois. 

The truck then plowed on and struck a car driven by Sheldon Cohen of Topeka. He and his wife Virginia were killed when the car hit a guardrail and wound up in a ditch.

Ford’s truck then hit a car, pushing it below another truck, and Topeka resident Ricardo Mireles was killed in an ensuing fire.

According to the Star, Mireles’ wife told the court in a pre-sentencing address that she knew Ford didn’t have “an intent to take someone’s life, but his recklessness shouldn’t go without punishment. He’s changed so many lives and even thinking that he may walk out of this courtroom serving little to no time is heartbreaking,” she said.

The Star reported that Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said in an email that the sentence was “as stiff of a sentence as one can get for a vehicular homicide.” The sentence is actually five one-year sentences, to be served consecutively.Ford’s attorney had asked for a one-year sentence. 

Shawn Boyd, the assistant county attorney who was the lead prosecutor on the case, said Ford had been reckless in not heeding signs that warned of road work and backups as he approached the site, which was near a toll booth undergoing work.

Families of those killed have received an insurance payout, according to the Star article. They also have filed suit against DaimlerTrucks, the manufacturer of Freightliner. 

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  1. I find few people understand that there is more to jail terms than just emotional placation (of those most affected, but increasingly for a growing body of moral preeners and virtue signalers online).

    Part of it is for the sake of the accused.

    If you’ve paid a meaningful price to society, society has no more right to punish you. And you don’t have to punish yourself.

    Just look at how OJ Simpson is spending the rest of his life punishing himself. A deep part of your subconscious is connected to “the Collective Subconscious”. People tend to “get away” with very little.
    It’s related to the idea of Karma.

  2. And how would one know a mechanic or wanna be mechanic didn’t install a wrong air/voltage switch in the air manifold and it was never recorded? Just saying,worked in a shop 20 plus and those little things sometimes went w/o a paper trail,especially if a part was needed and it was a no charge part for reasons of under a certain price or a part supplied because of some kinda issue and the time allowed for repair/replace being very minimal and just isn’t worth the paperwork involved.Hell,a driver before him coulda accidentally pulled a wire off a switch running a coax or power supply to CB! Wire could of pulled off in accident! I remember getting a scare(emotionally)I had installed a new seat in a truck and 2 days later the driver had a accident and lost his life! Couldn’t wait till truck was towed back to yard to inspect it myself after dot turned it loose.After inspecting it,all was intact,was latter learned speed/construction and no seatbelt was the reason for loss of life.Maybe with the way people are with story telling with the biggest ones running our country,trying to tell us wrong from right with 2 different sets of rules!One for us,1 for those making the rules!I don’t eat anything w/o first smelling it and there are way too many people wronging good people for the wrong reasons and it usually has a lot to do with the GREEN!

  3. ” The reason for the suit against the Manufacturer is due to the Defense Attorney’s acqusation that the cruise control did NOT immediately cancel the program when the driver hit the brake pedal ( whether or not he did ) and that by failing accounted for the impact speed of the tractor/trailer. “

  4. Condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. I do not understand why or how the victims families think that the owners of Freightliner are in any way responsible for this terrible accident. The lawyers who are representing these families should have their licenses removed for telling them they even have any kind of case to go after them. The driver alone is the responsible for what happened.

  5. This is why we truckers must pay attention. Those slowdowns will creep up on you if you don’t pay attention. Condolences to the families of the ones who were killed.

    1. This “accident” was tragic! We don’t know ALL the facts either. What was the driver’s record? What was the safety record of the company he worked for? Was there any malfunction of the truck? What if your family or your brothers family was wiped out? Or imagine your nieces/nephews no long have parents? Trust you would go for the $ too. That’s why we have insurance. Think hard about that before judging anyone.

John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.