Photo/Story Gallery 2008

Driver Sleep Deprivation Case Ends in Union County

Officer Lewis (Florida Department of Transportation Motor Carrier Compliance), Cpl. Starling, and Cpl. Bazinet (FHP) worked many hours on the case to bring it to a successful conclusion. Site of bus crashA landmark case to prove that a truck driver’s lack of sleep and fatigue caused a fatal crash in Union County finally ended after two and a half years. Florida Highway Patrol Corporal Jimmy Starling, the lead investigator in the case, spent countless hours putting together a case that would prove the truck driver’s criminal liability. State Attorney William Cervone (Gainesville) said, “[this case] may be the first case in Florida where someone went to prison for falling asleep at the wheel.”

Even the judge came to tears as he sentenced the truck driver to seven years in prison–one year for each of the children he killed in a horrific Union County crash after he fell asleep at the wheel.

Corporal Starling stands outside the Union County Courthouse.A Jacksonville trucker pleaded no contest to seven counts of Felony Vehicular Homicide and ten counts of Misdemeanor Culpable Negligence Causing Injury in the January 2006 crash.

“We’re hoping that this will send a message to the trucking companies that if they allow their sleep-deprived drivers on the road, they could be civilly liable and also criminally liable,” said Assistant State Attorney Geoffrey Fleck.

The children, ranging in ages from 20 months to fifteen, were stopped behind a school bus in their family’s 1993 Pontiac when the semi rolled over the car. Both vehicles crashed into the bus. The car burst into flames, killing everyone inside. Ten people from the bus were also injured in the crash, some severely.

Pictured: top left, Officer David Lewis (Florida Department of Transportation Motor Carrier Compliance), Corporal Jimmy Starling and Corporal David Bazinet (FHP) worked many hours on the case to bring it to a successful conclusion; top right, Site of bus crash; and bottom left, Corporal Jimmy Starling stands outside the Union County Courthouse.