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Company in Ky. crash had 17 tickets in 2 years

Mar. 04, 2013 @ 11:26 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A trucking company involved in a crash that killed six people in Kentucky had accumulated 17 traffic violations over two years before the accident, leading federal authorities to advise states to closely inspect its vehicles.

Despite the warning to states, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration gave Highway Star Inc. a satisfactory rating based on its overall performance during that two-year span ending March 3. The rating factors in both traffic stops and safety inspections, and the company had a slightly better record of passing the inspections than the national average.

The 17 traffic violations were for speeding, improper lane change, following too closely to another vehicle and failure to wear a seatbelt.

Duane DeBruyne, a spokesman for the agency, said the warning is meant to notify inspectors in each state when a trucking company’s vehicles deserve closer inspections, but the notification doesn’t require them to do so. Inspectors at weigh stations, state troopers and other authorities have access to the notices.

Phone and email messages left for Highway Star in Oak Park, Mich., were not immediately returned Monday.

During the two-year period, 12 of 59 inspections of Highway Star’s trucks resulted in a vehicle being taken out of service — a rate of 20.3 percent. That’s just below the national average of 20.72 percent of inspections resulting in removals.

Out of 124 driver inspections over that period, seven resulted in drivers being taken out of service — a rate of 5.6 percent. That’s slightly above the national average of 5.51 percent. Driver inspections involve separate criteria than vehicle inspections and can be done more frequently.

Highway star owns 35 vehicles, but it wasn’t clear how many drivers it employs.

A tractor-trailer owned by the company and driven by 47-year-old Ibrahim Fetic of Troy, Mich., struck a Ford Expedition traveling north on Interstate 65 around midday Saturday near Glendale, Ky., about 50 miles south of Louisville.

Killed were 62-year-old driver James Gollnow and his wife, 62-year-old Barbara Gollnow; their 92-year-old friend Marion Chapnoise; 18-year-old Sareena Gollnow, whose relationship to the couple wasn’t immediately clear; and the couple’s foster children 10-year-old Gabriel Zumig and 8-year-old Soledad Smith. The couple was from Wisconsin.

Two other foster children survived and were taken to area hospitals.

 

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