Tractor Trailer 'mowed Cars Down' In 9-vehicle Crash

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Anchorman's Comment
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Tractor trailer 'mowed cars down' in 9-vehicle crash

Two children are among the six people dead after a nine-vehicle crash on I-75 yesterday.

Police said eight of the nine vehicles involved in the fatal crash were stopped in the road because of construction when a tractor trailer came up from behind, was unable to stop and plowed into the vehicles.

Eighteen people were involved in the wreck. Six were taken to a local hospital and six required no medical treatment, according to police. 

Four people killed were in one vehicle, which was on fire, police said. The children were inside that vehicle. The other two people were killed in separate cars.

Police identified the truck driver as 39-year-old Benjamin Scott Brewer from Kentucky. He was driving north from Florida. Police say they don't know where he was heading.

Brewer is under investigation and has been interviewed by police, though authorities declined to release what he said.

This is the highest fatality crash in Chattanooga during the last 10 years, according to police. Before Thursday, only one person had been killed on the Chattanooga stretch of I-75 during the last five years. 

Jame Gillis, 35, said he was driving ahead of the crash and watched it in his rearview mirror.

"That truck was mowing cars down," he said. "I know that for sure. I saw them get hit."

Gillis pulled over and ran back into the fiery wreck to try to help people. Some men and women were already dead as he ran through, frantically looking for a fire extinguisher and screaming for help.

"It was the most shocking thing I've ever seen in my life," Gillis said. 

Gillis carried one woman, covered in fuel, away from her vehicle to safety. He said she survived.

"I can't get the images out of my head," Gillis said. 

The crash happened at 7:10 p.m. Thursday night, around Exit 11 on I-75 northbound. Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher called the wreck "one of the worst crashes I've seen."

Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said workers are in the middle of a resurfacing project, and the work zone stretches from from mile marker 13 to mile marker 19 on I-75 northbound. 

The work happens overnight, she said, from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The crash happened just before the construction zone, as the lanes were tapering down to make room for the work zone, Flynn said. 

She was not sure how many lanes were open at the spot the crash occurred. She added that TDOT had multiple warnings up about the work zone and said that the department followed all federal guidelines on how to set up the lane closures. 

"Ever message board from the 24-split to there was warning about this," she said. "We had a Highway Patrolman there in the taper with flashing lights on."

Police said the family members of all the people killed in the crash have been notified. 

Ocoee Middle School's band director, Brian Gallaher, was one of the six people killed in the crash, according to Bradley County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Ramsey.

The Ocoee Middle School community was just beginning to mourn Friday morning, as news of Gallaher's death spread.

"I was in the Cleveland High Band many years ago and it takes a lot to impress me," said Vicky Vicars. "Brian's middle school program impressed me quite a bit and I am so glad my child could have had him for a band instructor."

Police have also confirmed that 36-year-old Jason Ramos, an employee at Dalton State, was killed in the wreck. 

Ramos worked as the college's assistant director of residential life, spokeswoman Pam Partain said in a release. He'd been working at the North Georgia college for about two years. 

"Jason's incredible work ethic and humor are the two things that I valued the most in working with him," said Natalie Bates, Director of Residential Life. "He brought a lot of fun and humor to our office. and it was incredibly evident that he loved working with students and took pride in his job. This is a great loss to our roadrunner community and he will be sorely missed."

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Kenneth L.'s Comment
member avatar

Tractor trailer 'mowed cars down' in 9-vehicle crash

"Ever message board from the 24-split to there was warning about this," she said. "We had a Highway Patrolman there in the taper with flashing lights on."

We truckers have all seen how this happens. Having the police cars at the construction zone where the lanes are being squeezed into one is not where the fatal accidents occur most. That is where the simple fender benders happen because of cars cutting in line. The dangerous part is at the back of the line when you first see all the slowing and stopped vehicles. You come in at limit speeds and still have to get heavy on the brake. Sometimes your first glance is around a curve or over a hill. That is where the police car needs to be. And if that "collecting spot" is going backwards down the interstate , the police car needs to be on the shoulder backing up to stay with it. This way, we could get some warning to slow down even more. Thank God I keep my CB on to get early warnings to help avoid surprises like these.

I know the media just wants too blame the trucks for all the problems on the roads. But unless you stop buying products and start making and growing you own, you're gonna have to have the trucks.

But I still can't help but wonder if posting to facebook or some other such **** didn't contribute to the accident.

My condolences to all the families and victims of the accident.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

C. S.'s Comment
member avatar

Another reminder that driving is a serious responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. One moment of inattention, carelessness, or aggressive driving could lead to death and injury much greater than most other vehicles on the road have the ability to cause. Even if this driver is found to be not at fault, he has to live with the memory of that accident, of knowing that six people are dead. The next time you start your truck, ask yourself if you could live with that knowledge.

Kind thoughts and prayers to all the survivors of the accident, and to the families of those that passed. RIP.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Pamela C.'s Comment
member avatar
double-quotes-start.png

Tractor trailer 'mowed cars down' in 9-vehicle crash

"Ever message board from the 24-split to there was warning about this," she said. "We had a Highway Patrolman there in the taper with flashing lights on."

double-quotes-end.png

We truckers have all seen how this happens. Having the police cars at the construction zone where the lanes are being squeezed into one is not where the fatal accidents occur most. That is where the simple fender benders happen because of cars cutting in line. The dangerous part is at the back of the line when you first see all the slowing and stopped vehicles. You come in at limit speeds and still have to get heavy on the brake. Sometimes your first glance is around a curve or over a hill. That is where the police car needs to be. And if that "collecting spot" is going backwards down the interstate , the police car needs to be on the shoulder backing up to stay with it. This way, we could get some warning to slow down even more. Thank God I keep my CB on to get early warnings to help avoid surprises like these.

I know the media just wants too blame the trucks for all the problems on the roads. But unless you stop buying products and start making and growing you own, you're gonna have to have the trucks.

But I still can't help but wonder if posting to facebook or some other such **** didn't contribute to the accident.

My condolences to all the families and victims of the accident.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Wow, he didn't just approach that zone a little too fast and a little too close. To cause that much carnage he must not have been paying attention at all. Could very well have been texting or fiddling with something.

It only takes one moment of inattention.

Anchorman's Comment
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Truck driver in Ooltewah crash ticketed the day before for FL crash

New information in Thursday's fatal crash that killed six people reveals that the truck driver had been cited for careless driving in Florida just the day before.

Benjamin Scott Brewer, 39, was charged with careless driving from a crash the resulted in $6,000 worth of damage. No injuries were reported in the Florida crash.

The Florida Highway Patrol's report says that Brewer failed to maintain control of the vehicle (his semi) while attempting to pass another vehicle on FL SR-93, near Wildwood, FL, northwest of Orlando.

He was fined $166.

The citation was dated June 24, the day before the crash where Brewer's rig struck eight other vehicles slowed for a construction zone on Interstate 75 north of Ooltewah.

Preliminary reports from the Chattanooga police department say that Brewer failed to stop, causing the crash that claimed six lives and injured six other people.

Brewer has not been charged or cited for the Tennessee crash.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Anchorman's Comment
member avatar

Truck driver involved in fatal crash wanted in Wisconsin

A Channel 3 investigation has learned that the truck driver involved in last week's fatal crash that killed six people is wanted by authorities in Wisconsin.

Benjamin Scott Brewer, 39, is wanted in Rock County after authorities say he did not show up to a scheduled court hearing in 2013.

Brewer was arrested by Janesville Police in April 2013 and charged with possession of an illegally obtained prescription after a detailed police report shows he and another man were shopping for pharmacies to fill out of state prescriptions.

According to police records, obtained by Channel 3, police were called to a Janesville pharmacy after Brewer attempted to fill an out of state prescription for Oxycodone pills at a pain clinic. The pharmacy refused to fill the prescription. 

Police set up surveillance at another nearby pharmacy. When Brewer reportedly called that pharmacy to fill the same prescription the pharmacist told Brewer he would need to come in. Police were waiting for Brewer, who was with another man. 

When police located Brewer they say he was in possession of Gabapentin pills, a medication used in the treatment of epilepsy. Brewer did not have a prescription for the pills that were not in a prescribed container and told the officer he believed they were for ADHD. He told police he was being treated by a doctor in Murfreesboro, Tennessee for pain in his back due to a trucking accident. He told police the doctor unexpectedly closed and left him without medical records. He had traveled to Wisconsin in hopes a pharmacy would fill his prescriptions. 

Brewer was attempted to fill a presciption for 126 Oxycodone HCL tablets, at 30 milligrams each and 56 Ibprofen pills at 800 milligrams each. The man he was with, Jorge Ojeda-Morgado, was attempting to fill prescriptions for 112 Oxycodone HCL tablets and 30 milligrams each and 28 Zanaflex tablets at four milligrams each.

Police searched Brewer's phone and discovered text messages that appeared to be drug related.

"How are doing driver," Brewer texted a friend. 

"I'm doing alright, I was getting ready to call you," the person replied.

"Pink 10 for $7 or gen .5 for $3," Brewer responded. 

Officer confiscated the drugs in Brewer's possession and arrested him for possession of an illegally obtained prescription. He was later released on $250 bond and given a court date.

According to the Rock County Criminal Court, Brewer did not show up for his scheduled appearance and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. An employee of the clerk's office tells Channel 3 the case is still standing. Because the charge is a misdemeanour, Rock County authorities cannot extridite Brewer from another state. Only felony charges give the county the power to bring him back to Wisconsin to answer to the charge.

Channel 3 contacted Cool Runnings Express, the company for which Brewer drives. Owner Bill Sizemore replied "no comment" when asked about the investigation and hung up.

Investigators in Chattanooga are now working to determine if there were drugs in Brewer's system when he crashed into 8 vehicles, killing 6 people. 

"He appeared to be not quite right, but it's very hard to elaborate on that without seeing the blood work because everybody acts different," said Lt. David Gibb, Traffic Division with Chattanooga Police Department.

Just one day before that crash, Channel 3 has learned Brewer was involved in another crash, in the same truck, with the same passenger sitting next to him.

Brewer was cited by the Florida Highway Patrol for careless driving.

Police say he crashed into the back of another semi-truck while attempting to pass it.

Brewer was fined $166. 

The police report said he made a few repairs to his truck on the side of the road and then continued driving.

Florida troopers did not test for drugs or alcohol.

"Yes, the driver was involved in a crash in Florida the day before, but we're still gathering information even on that crash," said Lt. John Harmon with Tennessee Highway Patrol.

THP is assisting with CPD's investigation, focusing on Brewer and the truck he was driving. 

Tests were done on the truck to determine if it malfunctioned.

"I can tell you that we're trying to expedite everything in that investigation," Lt. Harmon said, "But you want to do it thoroughly."

Lt. John Harmon expects the results later this week.  In the meantime, Brewer is back home in Kentucky.

"We have not charged him formally with anything yet so he is free to go where he chooses," Lt. Gibb said, "I believe he's back at home in Kentucky right now."

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Well, it looks like we won't have to worry about this guy being on the road anymore.

Pat M.'s Comment
member avatar

I am still trying to figure out how you hit the back of another truck when you are passing? Maybe he was drafting? Yeah, his license need to be yanked right now. Not just the CDL either.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.
Anchorman's Comment
member avatar

Well, it looks like we won't have to worry about this guy being on the road anymore.

Driver involved in crash killing 6 deemed 'imminent hazard to public safety'

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

A federal agency has deemed a truck driver an “imminent hazard to public safety” after he failed to stop before crashing into eight vehicles, killing six people on Interstate 75 last month.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has ordered Kentucky-licensed truck driver Benjamin Scott Brewer not to operate any commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce following his involvement in a nine-vehicle, six fatality crash that occurred June 25, along Interstate 75 near the Ooltewah exit.

 Brewer, who had a commercial driver’s license, was served the federal order on Sunday.

 Federal investigators say Brewer falsified his records of-duty status in the days leading up to the crash.

 Brewer’s application for employment dated June 16 required him to list all accidents and traffic convictions occurring in the previous three years. Instead, he omitted a June 2013 crash and a January 2015 citation for speeding 16 to 20 miles-per-hour above the limit, according to a released statement from the safety administration.

In May 2015, Brewer tested positive for controlled substances following a court-order controlled substances test.

The safety administration’s order comes a couple days after crash survivor Ryan Humphries filed a $10 million lawsuit against Brewer and his employer. 

Commercial Motor Vehicle:

A commercial motor vehicle is any vehicle used in commerce to transport passengers or property with either:

  • A gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
  • A gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more which includes a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds
  • Interstate Commerce:

    Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

    Interstate:

    Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

    Dm:

    Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

    The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

    OWI:

    Operating While Intoxicated

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