Trucker receives maximum penalty for role in 2017 fatal crash on I-70

August 10, 2020

Land Line Staff

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A trucker from Colorado got the maximum penalty for his role in a 2017 crash that left five people dead on the Kansas Turnpike.

The Kansas City Star reports that Kenny B. Ford pleaded no contest to five counts of vehicular homicide in January. Each charge carries with it the maximum penalty of one year in jail. On Friday, Ford was sentenced to five years in Leavenworth County Jail.

The fatal crash happened on July 11, 2017, when Ford failed to notice a traffic backup on westbound I-70 near Bonner Springs, Kan. His 2015 Freightliner slammed into an SUV driven by a 61-year-old woman, Teresa J. Butler, sending it into a retaining wall and killing both her and her passenger, Karen Lynn Kennedy, 63, of New Palestine, Ill.

Ford’s truck then struck a car driven by 83-year-old Sheldon Cohen of Topeka, Kan. He and his 79-year-old wife, Virginia Cohen, were both killed when the car hit a guard rail. The truck then collided with a third car and pushed it underneath another truck. That car’s driver, Ricardo Mireles, 38, Topeka, was also killed.

Ford, 59, tested negative for drugs or alcohol but gave no explanation for why he did not stop in time, only telling the court that it was, quote, not intentional. The truck was owned by Colorado-based Indian Creek Express.

According to the Star, his public defender Ben Casad had asked for a one-year sentence followed by a year of probation, arguing that Ford had a clean record, had cooperated with investigators and was remorseful. Casad said Ford was careless, not reckless behind the wheel of his big rig on the day of the fatal crash.

Civil lawsuit seeks damages against Daimler

The families of the victims are also suing the truck’s manufacturer, Daimler Trucks North America, and parent company Daimler AG in the U.S. District Court of Kansas. The lawsuit alleges that the truck maker acted negligently by failing to equip the trucks with forward collision warning or automatic emergency braking systems.

Read the families’ amended complaint here.

News anchor Terry Scruton contributed to this report.

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