The inattention of a tractor-trailer driver led to a wreck on the Will Rogers Turnpike that killed 10 people in June, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said in a report released Aug. 3.
Investigators looking into the June 26 wreck in far northeastern Oklahoma said troopers spoke with the driver, 76-year-old Donald L. Creed of Willard, Mo., at the scene of the accident and that Creed, while still in his vehicle, “asked if he had hit someone.”
The inquiry showed no attempt by Creed to brake or take evasive action, no apparent problems with his brakes or steering and “strong evidence” that cruise control was in use, as his vehicle was traveling “consistently at 69.5 to 71 mph” for about 4.5 minutes before the collision.
Authorities have said Creed’s rig slammed into a line of cars that were stopped because of an earlier crash.
A man who answered the phone Aug. 3 at a listed number for Creed said it was the wrong number. Missouri authorities have said Creed had a clean driving record and had his commercial driver’s license renewed in April. He initially obtained that license in 1991.
The 32-page OHP report said that when investigators tried to determine what Creed’s physical condition had been before the collision, “it was listed as unknown due to his declining to be interviewed upon the advice of his attorney.”
Authorities had said earlier that before the crash, Creed had worked 10 hours straight delivering groceries in sweltering heat but he did not exceed the federal daily driving limit.
Steve Dillard, vice president for corporate sales development for Kansas City, Kan.-based Associated Wholesale Grocers – for which Creed was driving – declined to comment.
According to the report, while at the scene, Creed “stated that vehicles had driven underneath him while he was parked.” Troopers noted that “Creed had no visual obstructions” and could have seen at least 2,400 feet prior to initial impact.
The report said that immediately after the collision “Creed, although injured, was able to walk and negotiate turns and gave no indications of having any visual problems. He would turn his head and look at you when spoken to or when speaking.”
OHP Capt. Chris West said the report and other materials would be given to Ottawa County District Attorney Eddie Wyant, who will decide whether any charges should be filed. Assistant District Attorney Becky Baird said the complete criminal investigation into the accident is expected to last at least two more weeks.
Wyant previously has said unless there is evidence Creed was driving under the influence – and there is no indication of that from the OHP report – Creed likely would face misdemeanor charges of negligent homicide. That charge carries up to one year in jail for each count.
The crash killed Shelby Hayes, 35, of Frisco, Texas; her husband, Randall Hayes, 38; their son, Ethan Hayes, 7; and Shelby Hayes’ mother, Cynthia Olson, 55, of Crossroads, Texas.
Other victims were Oral Hooks, 69, Earlene Hooks, 63, Antonio Hooks, 42, and Dione Hooks, 41, all of Oklahoma City; and Ricardo Reyes, 39, and Ernestia Reyes, both of Phoenix. The Reyes’ 12-year-old daughter, Andrea, was injured in the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the accident continues, spokeswoman Bridget Serchak said.
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