Trucker Charged In Runaway Wheel Accident

December 7, 1998

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Dec. 8 – Ohio prosecutors are charging that a trucker whose runaway wheel killed a college student three months ago was criminally negligent.

Bobby E. Cookson of Quincy, IL, may have ignored warning signs that his tractor-trailer’s rear wheels were defective in the days before a rear wheel separated from his rig on Interstate 70 west of Columbus and slammed into the driver’s side of 20-year-old Justin Gambrell’s car, killing him.
Assistant prosecutor Dan Huston said the Cookson did not disclose two days before the fatal crash that the trailer’s rear wheels had locked up, smoked and caught fire. Prosecutors said Cookson also lied to State Highway Patrol troopers about previous problems with the rig’s wheels. And about an hour before the wheel fame off, a motorist reportedly warned Cookson via CB radio that smoke was pouring from his rear wheels.
Cookson is scheduled to be arraigned this week on misdemeanor charges of vehicular homicide and falsification. Each charge could result in six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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