18 of company's trucks deemed unsafe repairs ordered Check follows fatal pileup. 16 trucks are repaired.

May 01, 1991|By Glenn Small and Frank D. Roylance | Glenn Small and Frank D. Roylance,Evening Sun Staff

Eighteen of 32 heavy-duty trucks owned by a Crownsville paving company, one of whose drivers allegedly caused a fatal 11-car pileup April 27, were declared unsafe and ordered off the road by the State Police.

The unsafe trucks were discovered during a surprise safety inspection yesterday morning at Cunningham Paving Co. Inc.'s equipment yard, off Md. 3 in Crownsville.

But a company attorney said 16 of the 18 trucks were repaired immediately and were back on the road today.

"The police would put a sticker on the vehicle after looking at it, and it would be taken to another bay," said the attorney, Michael R. Roblyer. "The repair would be done, the State Police would inspect it again and the sticker would be removed.

"Most were so minor that they involved in some cases the turning of screw a quarter of an inch," he said. Two trucks were still being repaired today. One needed a new valve; the other needed four new tires.

Capt. John O. Himmelmann, commander of the State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, confirmed the 16 trucks were repaired and recertified before the inspection ended at 1 p.m.

"We were impressed he had resources and employees to make the repairs he did," Himmelmann said. He declined to compare the condition of Cunningham's trucks with others inspected across the state. But he said 42 percent of trucks given full inspections during roadside checks last year were taken off the road for safety violations.

The unsafe Cunningham trucks, had a variety of malfunctions, including poor steering mechanisms, bad brakes, bald tires and problems with lights and turn signals, said Chuck Jackson, a State Police spokesman.

Failure to make the repairs would subject the company to a $1,000 fine for each violation.

The owner, James Cunningham, also was cited and faces a $255 fine for not keeping proper self-inspection maintenance records, said Jackson.

State law requires trucking firms to self-inspect vehicles over 10,000 pounds every 25,000 miles, or once a year, whichever comes first. Detailed records of those inspections are required.

Roblyer said Cunningham "used his own system of recording inspections, which he has been using for years." He declined further comment on the charges.

A Cunningham-owned dump truck, hauling 22 tons of asphalt, plowed over a 1988 Nissan Sentra sedan Saturday afternoon near the mouth of the Harbor Tunnel after the truck's brakes failed. An inspection later by Toll Facilities police found three of the truck's four brakes out of adjustment and the fourth brake had a cracked air line that leaked.

The driver of the Nissan, Kimberly Ann Schroeder, 23, an airlines reservation clerk from Eastpoint, was pinned in her car for more than an hour. She later died at the Shock-Trauma Unit in Baltimore.

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