Trucker in Deadly Oklahoma Crash Pleads Not Guilty

September 25, 2009

The driver of a tractor-trailer that slammed into a line of stopped cars on a turnpike in northeastern Oklahoma in June, killing 10 people, has pleaded not guilty to 10 misdemeanor counts of negligent homicide.

Donald L. Creed, 76, of Willard, Mo., made his initial appearance in Ottawa County District Court in Miami, Okla. Creed waived his right to a speedy trial and is next scheduled to appear in court April 6, said District Attorney Eddie Wyant.

Creed was booked at the Ottawa County Jail and released on $20,000 bond, Wyant said.

Each misdemeanor count carries a maximum of one year in county jail, but Wyant declined to say if he would seek jail time for Creed.

“I’m still going to have to talk to the families of the victims, the attorneys,” Wyant said.

A telephone message left with Creed’s attorney was not immediately returned.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has said Creed’s inattention caused the June 26 wreck on the Will Rogers Turnpike near Miami, about 90 miles northeast of Tulsa. Investigators found no evidence that he tried to brake or take evasive action before hitting the other cars, which were stopped because of an earlier crash.

There was no indication that Creed was under the influence of an intoxicant at the time of the accidents, Wyant said. If he had been, that could have meant felony charges rather than misdemeanors.

Creed’s cruise control appeared to be set at about 70 mph before the accident, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol report. The speed limit on the turnpike is 75 mph.

While still in his vehicle, the report said, Creed asked investigators if he had hit someone. The report also said that at the scene, Creed “stated that vehicles had driven underneath him while he was parked.” Troopers noted that he “had no visual obstructions” and could have seen at least 2,400 feet before the initial impact.

Authorities said earlier that Creed had worked 10 hours straight delivering groceries in sweltering heat before the crash but that he did not exceed the federal daily driving limit.

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

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