FMCSA declares driver in fatal crash an imminent hazard to public safety

An Ohio-licensed commercial driver has been declared an imminent hazard to public safety after a deadly crash in a work zone. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is prohibiting Corey Robert Withrow from operating any commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce. The federal order came July 17, following a July 9 crash, according to the federal agency. 

Withrow was driving a commercial truck on Interstate 70 in Wayne County, Indiana, at speeds exceeding the posted limit when he collided with a line of vehicles slowed or stopped in a construction work zone.

Four children, who were siblings, were killed. Their father, who was driving the car they were in, was severely burned in the ensuing multiple-vehicle fire.

Distracted, controlled substances

Withrow admitted to Indiana State Police officers at the scene that, before the crash, he had been distracted by looking at his cellphone. He later tested positive for controlled substances, including amphetamines, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and cannabis, according to the FMCSA report.

Withrow was charged with four counts of reckless homicide, four counts of causing death when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, and one count of causing catastrophic injury when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

FMCSA declared Withrow’s violations to be “blatant and egregious” and that his disregard for the safety of the motoring public “substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death.”

Consequences of noncompliance

Failure to comply with the provisions of a federal imminent hazard out-of-service order may result in action by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for equitable relief and punitive damages. Civil penalties of up to $1,848 may be assessed for each violation of operating a commercial motor vehicle in violation of the order. Knowing and/or willful violation of the order may also result in criminal penalties.

Withrow also may be subject to a civil penalty enforcement proceeding brought by FMCSA for his violation of the agency’s safety regulations.

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