A truck driver whose loaded big rig slammed into the back of a minivan on Interstate 5 in Mission Viejo, killing three young siblings from Ladera Ranch, pleaded no contest to three counts of vehicular manslaughter Aug. 22, according to this NBC News report. The Mission Viejo big rig accident occurred on May 4, 2007, when Kyle Coble, 5, and his sisters Emma, 4, and Katie, 2 were killed.
Prosecutors said Jorge Miguel Romero, 38, of Apple Valley, was inattentive, not keeping enough distance between his truck and stopped traffic and hitting the brakes too late to stop. All these amounted to criminal negligence. Romero is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 14 at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach. He could be sentenced up to three years in prison.
A recent investigation by the Register last month revealed that the trucking company Romero was working for, KW Express, itself had 15 safety violations that surfaced during federal and state inspections. Let’s look at some of these violations. Drivers were allowed to work before they completed pre-employment drug screening. Drivers’ time cards were falsified. Vehicle maintenance records were not kept. And a company spokesman was quoted in the newspaper saying it was all a result of “innocent ignorance.” If the Cobles are represented in a civil trial by Orange County personal injury attorneys, those violations won’t look so innocent to an Orange County jury.
The fact that the trucker has himself admitted to the crime and taking into consideration the trucking company’s background with hiring drivers and maintaining their vehicles, makes the Cobles’ civil case even stronger. They will be entitled to compensation, although it is impossible to put a price tag on the lives of three beloved children lost in a fatal truck accident.
The main purpose of taking these wrongdoers to court is not money, but to right a wrong. Such lawsuits put these companies out of business by making them pay for their wrongdoing. And they act as a deterrent to other trucking companies that may be cutting corners or breaking the law to save money and increase productivity.