18 of company's trucks deemed unsafe repairs ordered Surprise check after driver is involved in 11-car pileup.

May 01, 1991|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,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, mostly dump trucks like the one involved in the pileup near the mouth of the Harbor Tunnel, had a variety of malfunctions, said Chuck Jackson, a State Police spokesman.

Those malfunctions included poor steering mechanisms, bad brakes, bald tires and problems with directional signals and other vehicle lights.

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

The way the procedure works, a sticker is placed on each of the unsafe trucks and it's up to the trucking company to make the repairs, said Jackson.

"Those trucks we cited, they could all be back on the street by now," Jackson said. The owner "had mechanics there, already making repairs."

The State Police will not go back to check to see if the repairs are made, said Jackson.

"We have to rely on the trust and cooperation of the trucking company to make the appropriate repairs," he said.

If one of the unsafe trucks is pulled over and it is discovered that the repairs were not made, the trucking company owner faces a $1,000 fine for each violation, Jackson added.

The owner, James Cunningham, was cited yesterday for not keeping proper self-inspection maintenance records, said Jackson. Police also ordered the 18 vehicles off the road until repairs are made.

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.

Cunningham faces a maximum fine of $255 for the record-keeping violation, if convicted when the case comes up in Anne Arundel District Court, Jackson said.

Calls to Cunningham today were referred to a company attorney, who was not available for comment.

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.

Jackson said Cunningham's trucks and inspection records were examined in December. At that time, the State Police found poor self-inspection record-keeping and ordered the firm to correct the problem within 30 days.

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