Saturday, August 14, 1999

Trucker faces 4 felonies in fatal crash on I-275

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Clayton Kuehn
        A grand jury decided Friday that Clayton Kuehn was not reckless or negligent when his tractor-trailer rig crashed into a van and killed four people. But it indicted Mr. Kuehn, 40, of Cadiz, Ky., on four counts of involuntary manslaughter.

        A conviction could send him to prison for 20 years.

        Prosecutors say the Aug. 5 crash occurred because Mr. Kuehn did not maintain enough distance.

        When traffic slowed, they say, Mr. Kuehn's truck skidded and slammed into the van.

        “This is someone who should have known better,” Prosecutor Mike Allen said of Mr. Kuehn. “This is a professional truck driver. He should know how to drive in a safe manner.”

        Although Mr. Kuehn was driving too close to the van, Mr. Allen said, investigators have found no evidence of reckless or negligent behavior.

        Eight people were injured in the crash. Mr. Allen said the grand jury could not indict Mr. Kuehn on charges of aggravated vehicular assault because the assault charge requires prosecutors to show that the defendant was negligent.

        Mr. Allen said prosecutors also were unable to prove aggravated vehicular homicide, which is commonly used in drunken driving cases, because there was no evidence of negligence.

        But under Ohio law, the more serious charge of involuntary manslaughter can be used as long as prosecutors can prove the defendant committed a minor offense that led to a fatality.

        In this case, the minor offense is failing to maintain an assured clear distance.

        “We will absolutely seek the maximum sentence,” Mr. Allen said. “It's a horrible, horrible situation.”

        The collision occurred around 5 p.m. on a stretch of Interstate 275 that is often mired in stop-and-go traffic during the afternoon rush hour.

        Mr. Allen said investigators are analyzing skid marks to determine how fast Mr. Kuehn was driving.

        Mr. Kuehn, who has no prior offenses and a good driving record, is being held in lieu of $1 million bond.


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