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State police seek to suspend firm's truck registrations


The state police's truck safety chief said yesterday that he will ask the Motor Vehicle Administration to suspend the registrations of more than 20 trucks and other vehicles owned by Cunningham Paving, the Crownsville firm that owned a dump truck involved in a fatal 11-vehicle accident near the Harbor Tunnel on April 27.

Capt. John O. Himmelmann, who heads the truck enforcement division, said two of his inspectors went to Cunningham's offices yesterday, leafed through the safety records of 32 of the firm's vehicles and found that more than 20 lacked "supportive documentation that they had been inspected, repaired or anything."

It was the second time that state police inspectors had visited Cunningham in little over a month. On April 29, teams of inspectors found that 18 of 32 trucks on the lot needed repairs or adjustments to safety-related equipment, including faulty brakes.

Cunningham was also fined $255 for not keeping the proper repair records -- the first trucking firm in the state to be so cited under a 1990 truck inspection law.

Toll facilities police blamed the truck accident, in part, on faulty zTC brakes. On April 27, toll facilities police said, a southbound Cunningham truck loaded with 22 tons of concrete swerved and bounced off a restraining barrier near the Harbor Tunnel entrance, crushing a Nissan Sentra and killing its driver. Nine other autos were damaged in the chain-reaction accident.

On May 10, the Baltimore state's attorney charged the dump truck operator, John Willie Buie, 58, of Baltimore, with auto manslaughter, speeding and three other traffic violations.

Michael Roblyer, attorney for Cunningham Paving, said yesterday that his client had misunderstood the paperwork requirements. The inspection law requires the owners of vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds to conduct their own inspection of those vehicles every 12 months or 12,000 miles.

Mr. Roblyer said Cunningham "didn't fill [the paperwork] in the way the police wanted it filled in. Now they've been told how to do it, and it turns out to be much simpler than they thought it was."

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