A truck driver is paying the price for his reckless — and tragic — behavior. And there should be a takeaway for all drivers.
The trucker, Thomas Wallace, Tuesday pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in Genesee County Court in New York in the death of a 33-year-old mother of two boys, Julie Stratton of Snyder, N.Y.
Wallace was described as teary-eyed when he entered his plea, and his lawyer said the trucker accepted responsbility for his actions. But that won’t bring Stratton back.
Wallace was driving his rig with only four hours of sleep over a 27-hour span when he struck Stratton’s car, killing her. At the time of the accident, Wallace was also apparently watching pornography on a laptop computer he had at his side. Maybe he thought the porn would help keep him awake behind the wheel.
On the day of the fatal accident, Dec. 12, Stratton had hit a deer on the New York State Thruway in Pembroke, N.Y., which is not far from Buffalo. Her car was disabled in the passing lane, and she had called 911 for help.
Wallace, a resident of Brook Park, Ohio, crashed into Stratton’s car from behind with his tractor trailer.
There’s a reason people shouldn’t drive when they’re sleep deprived, that is one lesson that should be reinforced by this tragic accident. Your reactions are slower, or you nod off and don’t spot a disabled car ahead of you in your lane.
New York State Police found that Wallace had kept phony log books to hide how many hours he was driving. And an examination of his laptop found it had been streaming porn when the crash took place.
In a particularly poignant statement, the Stratton family said life had been rough since the accident, with Julie’s two sons having to celebrate Mother’s Day without her.
With his plea Wallace, 45, could be sentenced in Sept. 1 to five to 15 years in prison.
Wallace is employed by a Wisconsin trucking company, Millis Transfer.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justiceg@gordonjohnson.com
:: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.