A truck driver arrested after a collision that killed three people over the weekend was involved in a similar accident eight months ago in Madera.
Jackie Wayne Dillard, 55, of Fresno was arrested Saturday on suspicion of felony drunk driving and manslaughter after the semitrailer refrigerator truck he was driving plowed into slow-moving traffic on the Santa Ana Freeway near the Garden Grove Freeway, careening into as many as 10 vehicles, a California Highway Patrol dispatcher in Santa Ana said. Charges have not been filed pending further investigation.
The truck was going an estimated 50 to 55 m.p.h. as it approached traffic that had slowed to speeds of 10 to 15 m.p.h., CHP officials said. The accident, which began in the southbound lanes and spilled into the northbound lanes, killed three members of an Anaheim family and injured at least seven other people, CHP officials said.
On Aug. 16, 1987, Dillard was cited by the CHP in Madera for driving at an unsafe speed after he ran his two-trailer truck into the back of a car which had slowed down in front of him.
The Madera Accident
Dillard was driving south on California 99 at about 55 m.p.h. when traffic in front of him slowed down, said the spokesman, who declined to give his name. Dillard did not slow down in time and ran into the back of a 1985 Honda Accord, the spokesman said.
Dillard was slightly injured and the driver of the other car was unharmed, the spokesman said.
Dillard told CHP officers at the scene that he was not paying attention because he was sleepy from driving long hours, the spokesman said.
Anita L. Bello, owner of Cal Pacific, the Fresno trucking company that has employed Dillard for three weeks, said he has been an "excellent driver" during his tenure there and was still employed. She said if Dillard is charged and found guilty as a result of the collision, he will be fired.
Bello said that in the meantime it is up to the company's insurance carrier whether Dillard will drive for the produce shipping company again.
Released From Jail
Tuesday, Dillard was released from Orange County Jail when CHP officials had not filed formal charges against him, Deputy Dist. Atty. Del Wright said. State law requires that a person accused of a crime be charged within two court days after arrest or be released.
Wright said CHP investigators needed more time to conclude their investigation of the crash; therefore, Dillard was released while the investigation continued.
CHP investigators are still examining the accident scene and are awaiting results of Dillard's blood-alcohol test, Wright said.
"We have a lot of physical evidence to examine," said Officer Paul Caldwell of the CHP office in Santa Ana. "Our report will be about 100 pages long."