Prosecutors claimed yesterday that 58-year-old dump truck driver John Willie Buie had been speeding when his vehicle triggered an 11-car accident on the Harbor Tunnel Thruway last month. He was charged with vehicular manslaughter and four other traffic violations.
Louis Coleman, an assistant state's attorney, said a manslaughter conviction carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
In addition, Mr. Buie was charged in Baltimore Circuit Court with negligent driving, reckless driving, speeding and driving at a speed beyond what would be considered reasonable and prudent. Each of those charges carries a penalty of two months' imprisonment and a $500 fine.
In the past three years, Mr. Buie has been convicted of four speeding violations and failure to obey a traffic sign.
According to police, the April 27 accident occurred when Mr. Buie's dump truck swerved as it headed for the tunnel. The truck then bounced off a Jersey barrier and crushed a Nissan Sentra driven by Kimberly Ann Schroeder.
Ms. Schroeder, of Eastpoint, was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she died a few hours later.
Eight other people were injured in the accident, none of them seriously.
Ten days ago, accident investigators were focusing on the truck's air brakes in their search for causes of the fatal wreck, said Thomas E. Freberger, a spokesman for the Maryland Toll Facilities.
They found an audible leak and dry rot in one of the four air brake lines on Mr. Buie's truck, and misalignment of three of the truck's four air brakes. Also, the truck was found to be 2,900 pounds overweight.
Mr. Buie has been named as a defendant in two multimillion-dollar lawsuits filed on behalf of two people injured in the accident. The suits, which seek a total of $7.1 million, name Mr. Buie and the Cunningham Paving Co. of Crownsville, which owns the dump truck involved in the accident.