Friday, June 16, 2000

Rumpke driver charged in 3 deaths


Mother, twin daughters crash victims

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Mother, 2 kids died in this Fairfield wreckage.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP — The driver of a trash truck that crashed into a car last week killing twin girls and their mother was charged Thursday with three counts of vehicular homicide.

        Michael A. Vail was driving a 60,000-pound Rumpke truck June 9 along Ohio 4 in Butler County's Fairfield Township when the truck rammed into the rear of Lucy Davis' car at the Creekside Drive intersection.

        Fairfield Township Police Chief Richard St. John said Mr. Vail, 35, and his attorney came to the township police department Thursday to receive notice of the charges of vehicular homicide and a traffic citation for not keeping his truck a safe distance behind Mrs. Davis' car.

        Chief St. John said investigators found Mr. Vail's truck was slightly over the speed limit — 58 mph in 55 mph zone — when it rear-ended Mrs. Davis' car, killing her and her twin 7-year-old adopted daughters, Demetria and Tambra. All three died at the scene.

        Her 3-year-old nephew, Antonio Davis, was injured in the collision, which crushed the rear of the car, but was released from the hospital earlier this week. Mrs. Davis, 60, . had slowed at the Creekside Drive intersection, where flashing yellow lights had recently been installed, police said.

        Chief St. John said the minor speed violation did not constitute negligence, which is the legal test for vehicular homicide, but that Mr. Vail did not keep a safe distance behind the Monroe woman's car.

        “You have to drive at a speed and distance so you can bring your vehicle to a safe stop,” said Chief St. John.

        Mr. Vail declined to comment. He is scheduled to appear in Butler County Area II Court June 28.

        If found guilty on all three counts of vehicular homicide, Mr. Vail could face up to 18 months in prison, $3,000 in fines and a license suspension of one to five years.

        Mr. Vail, who has driven for Rumpke since 1989, has been assigned a non-driving position, company officials said.

        He previously had pleaded guilty to speeding in his own vehicle in 1996, and equipment misuse in 1997, according to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

        Mr. Vail also was involved in accidents while driving commercial vehicles in 1994, 1997, 1998, but was found not guilty in those cases. None involved serious injuries. Rumpke officials were unable to verify whether Mr. Vail's previous accidents while driving commercial vehicles happened in Rumpke vehicles.

       



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