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.