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Truck Driver Gets Five Years for Georgia Crash Killing Five Women

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that a tractor-trailer driver will serve five years in prison after pleading guilty to causing a crash on I-16 that killed five Georgia Southern University nursing students and seriously injured two others. John Wayne Johnson, 56, admitted in a deposition that he’d used his cellphone to text and exchange sexually provocative messages with a woman as he drove on I-16, but he denied using his phone at the time of the crash. He pled guilty to nine counts, including five counts of first-degree vehicular homicide.

This case clearly demonstrates how tragedy can unfold when a trucking company does not properly screen its drivers. Sixteen months before the I-16 crash, while Johnson was driving for another company, he fell asleep at the wheel of his rig. That tractor-trailer wound up rolling over. Johnson was fired, but another company, Total Transportation of Mississippi subsequently hired him. In court, Johnson could offer no explanation for his failure on I-16 to stop his truck from plowing into other vehicles. Some families of the I-16 victims believe that Johnson had fallen asleep behind the wheel again.

Did truck driver fatigue lead to five deaths on I-16?

Driver fatigue is a major cause of commercial truck accidents, which is why federal regulations limit the amount of time a driver can spend behind the wheel of a rig. However, monitoring trucking companies for compliance is nearly impossible, so drivers and their employers regularly violate these rules. Too often, it takes a major accident to bring to light a company’s disregard for the law.

In June, a grand jury indicted Total Transportation along with Johnson. But the district attorney eventually dropped charges against the company in exchange for Total Transportation paying $200,000 to establish an education fund for student nurses.

If you’ve suffered a serious injury in an Atlanta-area truck accident, speak with a dedicated attorney at McMenamy Law LLC to learn more about your rights.