A truck motorist carrying metal fence equipment in Jonesboro, Clayton County, Georgia has been charged with the death of an innocent bystander on Tara Boulevard. Cynthia Cameron, a 57 year old woman, was walking on the side of Tara Boulevard in Clayton County this past Monday when a metal pole extended out from the cab of a moving truck and struck her with great force causing severe injuries to her spine that resulted in her death. An eyewitness reported that “[t]he force was so forceful it knocked her shoes off.”
The driver of the truck, Leonard Kleckley, was driving to a job when the incident occurred. The load on the truck contained fence equipment including metal poles, one of which extended 25 inches (over 2 feet) on the right side of the truck cab. The driver worked for D.J’s Services of Forest Park, Georgia.
Mr. Kleckley was arraigned in the Magistrate Court of Clayton County and was denied bond as he was on probation at the time of the incident. Kleckley has been criminally charged with second degree vehicular homicide, a misdemeanor charge in Georgia under O.C.G.A. 40-6-393(c). The crime is considered a misdemeanor inasmuch as Kleckley did not intend to kill Ms. Cameron and is punishable by $1,000.00 fine and/or confinement for up to a year. However, Mr. Kleckley (and his employer) may also be subject to civil penalties. By way of note, the employer may be liable for the act or omission of his employee under Georgia law.
Under Georgia law, a motor vehicle with a load is prohibited from operating on the road unless the load is adequately secured to prevent shifting or dropping of the load under O.C.G.A. 40-6-254. Additionally, under O.C.G.A. 40-6-248.1, no vehicle shall be driven on the road unless the vehicle is loaded, covered or constructed so as to prevent any portion of its load (i.e. fence post) from dropping, escaping or shifting so as to be a hazard to others.
The news article does not indicate what type of truck that Mr. Kleckley was operating at the time of the incident. For our purposes, we will assume it was not a tractor trailer. In the instant incident, an independent eyewitness actually saw the extended metal pole hit the victim. The pole extended a little over two feet. The facts are sparse as to whether or not the victim was walking quite close to the roadway or whether the truck driver was operating quite close to the edge or off the roadway. If the witness testifies that the victim was not walking on the road at the time of the tragedy, then I believe the estate of the victim will meet the burden of proof that the truck driver actually caused the death of Ms. Cameron. Conversely, if the witness testifies that the victim was actually walking on the roadway, then the result may be markedly different.
I would assume that the victim’s family will file a suit for damages in a civil court for the death of Ms. Cameron. If Ms. Cameron had a will at the time of the death, then the will should specify the executor of her estate who would be authorized to file suit. If Ms. Cameron died without a will, then the immediate family and/or next of kin could ask the probate court judge to appoint an individual to act as the administrator of the estate to file such suit.
The United States Postal Service indicates that D.J’s Services is located in Clayton County, Georgia via a simple zip code confirmation using the address of the business. If D.J’s Services is a company incorporated under Georgia law that has a registered agent located in Clayton County or if Mr. Kleckley is a resident of Clayton County, then suit may be filed in Clayton County, Georgia. If so, then Clayton County should prove to be a friendly venue for Ms. Cameron’s tragedy to be heard by a jury.
This incident highlights that motorists should take great care to secure or cover their load so that it does not cause an immediate hazard to other motorists, passengers or bystanders. Too often, I see contractors in vans or trucks which have extended ladders, wood boards or other construction material that is not securely fastened. Moreover, I see folks that take it upon themselves to move their large household furniture and other items that are clearly not fastened or secured in any matter. If any of these items fall out on the roadway or off the side of the roadway, then the motorist would be responsible for any such damage or injury.
The Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford is currently accepting unsecured load injury cases throughout Georgia. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of an unsecured load on the roadways of Georgia, then please contact an experienced car accident attorney for a free consultation.