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Trucker to face homicide count

32-ton semi struck 4 vehicles, killing 1, injuring 5 on US 30

– An over-the-road trucker, who allegedly skipped required rest periods and falsified his logbook, was charged Wednesday with reckless homicide and involuntary manslaughter in a crash last year on U.S. 30 that killed a 4-year-old girl and injured five others.

Gary Golay, 55, of West Mansfield, Ohio, also faces nine felony counts of criminal recklessness and a misdemeanor count of false informing.

On the sunny afternoon of July 27, 2012, Golay was driving a semi west on U.S. 30 when he plowed into four vehicles stopped for the light at Kroemer Road in northwest Fort Wayne, near the Sweetwater Sound headquarters, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in Allen Superior Court.

The 68,450-pound semi hauling auto parts was going 59 mph in a 50-mph zone, and the rig’s black box showed that Golay did not brake before the crash, the affidavit stated.

The first vehicle the semi hit was the Little family’s Pontiac minivan, crumpling its back end. The crash left Abigail Little, 4, of Albion in critical condition, and she died not long after arriving at a hospital, authorities said. She was one day shy of her fifth birthday, according to her obituary.

The semi sent the minivan and a sport utility vehicle into the intersection. Two pickup trucks also struck in the crash ended up in a grassy median along with the semi. One of the pickup trucks was flipped on its roof.

While five other motorists were also taken to hospitals, Abigail was the only one critically injured, according to police. Golay was shaken by the crash but not hurt, the affidavit said.

Golay, an experienced driver familiar with that stretch of road, told a state trooper that before the crash, he briefly looked out the driver’s side window, and when his eyes returned to the road, the vehicles ahead of him had stopped, and he was unable to stop before hitting them, the affidavit stated.

Truckers like Golay must keep track of the hours they drive in a logbook, and for safety reasons, they can drive only 11 hours for every 10 hours off. After state police inspected Golay’s logbook, a report from the semi’s black box, receipts and other paperwork, they concluded he had made false entries in his logbook multiple times in the days before the crash, the affidavit said.

Police found “significant irregularities as to his recorded travel times and what was actually possible,” the affidavit said. “His logbooks indicated that he was off duty when he was, in fact, working.”

For instance, Golay’s logbook said he was off duty the night of July 26 starting at 8 p.m., but a time-stamped pass showed him driving into a rail yard in Dolton, Ill., shortly after 9 p.m. In the eight days leading up to the crash, Golay falsified his logbook every day except one. That was July 22, a day he was actually not driving, the affidavit said.

State police found that he had not taken a required 10-hour rest for two days before the crash, according to the affidavit.

“By working for such extended periods of time, he was able to dramatically increase his income, however he was accumulating his lack of rest as each day passed by,” the affidavit said.

In addition to facing criminal charges, Golay has been cited for a federal motor carrier safety regulation violation, failing to yield, disregarding a traffic light, following too closely and speeding. There is a warrant for his arrest.

aingersoll@jg.net

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