Tenn. trucker indicted in deaths of 3 near Fort McHenry Tunnel


The Tennessee trucker who barreled into cars at the Fort McHenry Tunnel tollbooth, killing three people last spring, has been charged with three counts of vehicular manslaughter, the Baltimore state's attorney's office said yesterday.

A grand jury returned an indictment Thursday charging John William Castro, 53, of Clarksville, Tenn., with causing the May 11 accident that killed a Virginia couple and a Harford County man, authorities said.

Castro was fatigued, speeding and driving his 18-wheel tractor-trailer without his glasses, according to a Maryland Transportation Authority Police investigative report.

The cascading collision involved five vehicles and set a minivan and two tractor-trailers on fire. Killed in the crash were Kyle A. Smith, 63, and Claire Gertrude Smith, 61, of Manassas, Va.,; and Jamison M. Miller, 24, of Belcamp.

Police described Castro, who worked for Celadon Trucking Services of Indianapolis, as "solely at fault for this collision" and concluded that his "gross negligence" constituted manslaughter.

Craig M. Koven, a Celadon Trucking spokesman, said yesterday that Castro no longer works for the company.

Police said Castro did not apply his brakes until he hit the first car. Investigators said the driver told them he was traveling 55 mph to 60 mph in the 50-mph zone, and that it had been nearly 17 hours since his last 10-hour break, which exceeds safety regulations.

Joseph Sviatko, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office, said it is not unusual for a driver to be indicted months after an accident because of how long it takes to reconstruct accidents and fully investigate them.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Castro, Sviatko said.

Each charge carries a potential 10-year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine, he said.

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