Investigators Say Truck Driver Was Driving For 21 Consecutive Hours Before Fatal Crash

A truck driver from Houston, Texas has been placed out-of-service by the FMCSA after testing positive for drugs and committing numerous hours-of-service violations prior to a fatal November crash.

The crash happened in Junction City, Kansas, on November 15th. According to local reports, 42-year-old truck driver Steven Wayne Johnson crossed over into oncoming traffic on Interstate 70 and struck a 2006 Ford Five Hundred. 26-year-old Jessica Michelle Thompson and her 5-year-old daughter were killed in the crash. Thompson’s 6-year-old son died from his injuries several days later.

Johnson was not injured, but an investigation determined that he had been driving for 21 consecutive hours before the crash. A blood test also indicated that PCP and marijuana were in his system.

In a press release dated December 23rd, the FMCSA published the following:

“On November 15, 2016, Johnson, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder, was operating a CMV along Interstate 70 near Junction City, Kansas, when his truck crossed the median and crashed head-on into a passenger vehicle. In all, three people were killed.

“Immediately after the crash, a Kansas Highway Patrol drug recognition officer conducted field sobriety tests. In addition, urine and blood samples were collected. The blood sample collected from Johnson tested positive for cannabinoids (marijuana) and phencyclidine (PCP), both of which are controlled substances under 21 U.S.C. 1308.

“In examining Johnson’s records-of-duty-status for November 15, 2016, and in the days leading up to the crash, FMCSA investigators found that Johnson was in violation of multiple federal hours-of-service regulations, which are designed to prevent fatigued driving. Prior to the crash, records showed that Johnson had been on-duty and driving for a minimum of 21 hours. In reviewing Johnson’s records-of-duty-status covering the previous six months, 70 of 160 records were missing, and during that period, Johnson did not record any off-duty time.”

In addition to the out-of-service order, the FMCSA is also considering civil penalties against Johnson.

Johnson was arrested after the crash and is being held in a Geary County jail in Kansas on $250,000 bond. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence.