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What began with a horrific 2009 Oklahoma trunpike accident, ended on October 8, in a settlement agreement. One day before jury selection in the civil trial over the deaths of those killed in the accident caused by trucker Donald Creed, eight of the parties settled with defendants for $62.7 million. Representatives for the other two people killed had reached a previous settlement.
The turnpike accident, which killed ten people, occurred when traffic had stopped for another accident between two drivers who were also named as defendants in the suit, reports Tulsa World. Truck driver Donald Creed, 77, did not see the cars stopped for the original accident and plowed into the last three cars stopped on the road. Several whole families were killed in the ensuing crash.
According to Tulsa World, investigators found that it was Creed's lack of attention caused the collision. No evidence was found at the scene of any attempt by Creed to brake or take evasive action. Officers said Creed had been on the job since 3:00 a.m. that morning.
In this case, the NTSB said driver fatigue was the cause of the deadly collision. Although most are aware of the dangers of driving impaired by alcohol or drug use, driving impaired by fatigue is also the cause of many accidents. The NTSB estimates that there are 56,000 sleep related road crashes annually in the USA, resulting in 40,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities. A 1995 study by the Board suggested that 2.6% of accidents caused by driver inattention were due to fatigue.
Donald Creed pleaded guilty to 10 counts of negligent homicide, was sentenced to one year of probation on each count and served 30 days in a county jail. He no longer has his commercial driver's license. Tulsa World reports he was too distraught to attend court.
Although the surviving relatives of those killed will receive compensation, the fact that the ordeal has ended without the added strain of a trial may be just as important. "Money is just money," plaintiffs' attorney Preston Trimble told Tulsa World. "We have grandparents, parents and lost brothers and mothers in this. It's hard to equate with money. ... It's like you have a loved one missing in action whose body is recovered and returned home. It's a kind of closing."