Following a Jan. 27 crash killing an Illinois Tollway worker and seriously injuring an Illinois State Police trooper, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has declared Illinois-licensed truck driver Renato V. Velasquez to be an imminent hazard to public safety and ordered him not to operate any commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce.
FMCSA investigators found that prior to the crash, Velasquez violated federal hours-of-service regulations prohibiting commercial truck drivers from driving for more than 11 hours each shift or remaining on-duty after 14 hours of work. The agency says he also falsified his logbooks with the intent of concealing the number of hours he worked.
The investigators concluded that for a period of 26-hours during Jan. 26-27, Velasquez operated a tractor-trailer for approximately 1,000 miles, only resting between 3-1/2 to 5-1/2 hours, well short of the federally required rest period. Before reaching his last scheduled stop, Velasquez crashed into two fully illuminated stationary vehicles, an Illinois State Police car with its emergency lights activated and an Illinois Tollway vehicle with an activated warning arrow, outside of Naperville, Ill., causing the fatality and life-threatening injury.
Velasquez has been charged by Illinois authorities with multiple felony violations. The investigation remains open.
According to published reports Velasquez was convicted in 2001 of selling cocaine to an undercover police officer that resulted in serving time in prison while his driving record shows at least three traffic convictions from 2010 through 2012, with at least two of them happening in a commercial vehicle, though none were as serious as the Jan. 27 crash.
The company that Velasquez also reportedly has a spotty safety record with just over 40 trucks including being involved six crashes the last two years.