A dump truck driver who bailed out on a brake inspection is being blamed for a fiery, 10-vehicle collision earlier this year in Northern California that paralyzed a woman and injured five others.
Santa Rosa Police Department reported today that Francisco Alberto Rodriguez, 45, caused the February 5th accident by being in violation of state vehicle code 26453 which requires that a vehicle’s brakes be in good, working condition.
“Investigators from the California Highway Patrol completed a physical inspection of the dump truck after the collision,” according to a press release from Santa Rosa police. “This inspection revealed three of the eight brakes on the dump truck were out of adjustment and not functioning properly.”
Rodriguez, who works for the Flores Trucking Company, told police that the brakes on his four-axle 2009 Kenworth had been functioning that morning when he set out to begin hauling debris from the remains of homes destroyed by wildfires in October.
However, police say that Rodriguez avoided a routine brake inspection at work prior to leaving for the day, according to The Press Democrat.
Rodriguez said his brakes began failing as he drove to the dump with a load of charred debris. Witnesses said Rodriguez drove through a red light at Fountaingrove Parkway and Mendocino Avenue before slamming into several vehicles, many of which caught fire, including Rodriguez’ truck. Three vans and two pickups also burned.
“The first fire department unit arrived on scene within five minutes,” Santa Rosa Fire Department reported in a press release. “They found numerous vehicles fully involved with fire and several injured people laying in the street. Burning fuel was also running in the eastbound gutter from the Mendocino Avenue overpass.”
While Rodriguez’ vehicle violation will not land him in jail, some of the people injured in the accident are suing him, Flores Trucking and sub-contractors associated with the work that Rodriguez was performing.
According to the California Highway Patrol, Rodriguez’ truck was overdue for service and had been overweight at the time of the collision.