A Mansfield truck driver allegedly responsible for two fatal crashes in six months has been indicted.
The Union County Grand Jury has charged Doug A. Jones, 79, of Mansfield, with two counts of failure to stop after an accident and one count each of involuntary manslaughter, vehicular homicide and aggravated vehicular homicide.
According to court documents, on Dec. 7, Jones was driving a 2004 Kenworth truck, hauling a 2014 Great Dane trailer, both owned by Estep Express Incorporated in Mansfield. Jones was headed east on U.S. 33 in Jerome Township. About 8:59 a.m., Jones arrived at a work site just west of Route 161. He allegedly drove over orange safety cones on the right-hand lane of U.S. 33 before hitting Teresa M. Howell.
According to court documents, Howell was working for Lake Erie Construction Company, which was subcontracted by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to work on guardrail maintenance on U.S. 33. She was, according to court documents, on the berm of the road unloading a truck.
“Jones struck several construction cones and was heard on the rumble strip of the berm prior to the collision,” according to court documents. “Jones struck the woman, dragging her body along the side of the trailer and causing her death.”
Howell, 24, of Greenwich, left a husband and two sons, 4 and 6.
Jones allegedly left the scene without stopping.
According to court documents, Jones, “admitted to knowing that he struck several cones and heard several small noises as he struck the cones and then a louder noise.”
Jones eventually stopped on Interstate 270 to see if there was any damage done to his trailer.
“Blood, flesh and bone were on the trailer. Jones did not return to the scene,” according to court documents.
About 90 minutes after the crash, investigators found Jones and his truck in a warehouse area at 1580 Williams Rd., Columbus. The truck was reported to be hauling perishable food items.
The crash occurred just six months after Jones was involved in another fatal crash.
On July 2, 2018, Jones was working for Dutch Maid Logistics, driving on Interstate 81 in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. According to court documents, witnesses saw Jones “driving erratically” and “moving in and out of the right lane.”
Arquimides Flores, 33, of Harrisburg, was standing on the berm behind his tractor-trailer which was apparently having tire troubles. According to court documents, Jones was driving south, lost control of his truck and hit Flores, then his tractor-trailer. According to a report from the Pennsylvania State Police, Jones’ truck then hit the guide rail on the right shoulder and the trailer broke loose and continued south before hitting another truck.
Jones was charged with “careless driving causing the death of another person,” driving too fast for conditions, driving outside his lane before ascertaining the danger, and failing to wear his seatbelt.
Flores, a military veteran, was pronounced dead at the scene. He was engaged to be married and had two young children, according to reports.
Jones was not injured.
On Jan. 31, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ordered Jones Out of Service, meaning he can no longer drive commercially.
In its order, the FMCSA told Jones, “continued operation of a (Commercial Motor Vehicle) substantially increases the likelihood of serious injury or death to you and the motoring public if not discontinued immediately.”
In addition to the criminal charges, he is facing civil lawsuits in both Ohio and Pennsylvania. He could also be held responsible for damages and face civil penalties for violating federal safety regulations.
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