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Trucker Likely Fell Asleep Before Westmoreland Co. Accident

A truck driver probably fell asleep before his tractor-trailer slammed into a car, killing a Honduran diplomat.  Trooper Kevin McNamara said truck driver Sam P. Thompson, 32, of Gaithersburg, Md, falsified his driver’s log a few hours before the Feb. 8 crash. The log indicated he was taking a federally mandated sleep break when he was actually in Toledo, Ohio, picking up a load of glassware, McNamara said.


Navarro was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash at milepost 71 in an eastbound lane of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Arona.


McNamara said damage to the vehicles and gouges in the highway indicated Navarro’s vehicle was pulling off the highway when it was rammed from behind.  “The left rear trunk area was pushed all the way into the rear seat (where Ortiz Navarro was seated). My opinion is that only 2 1/2 feet of the car was on the right lane of the highway and the rest was already over in the pull-off,” McNamara said.


“I think he fell asleep, drove up the embankment and finally grabbed the wheel,” McNamara said.  McNamara said he picked up paperwork, including Thompson’s driver’s log, strewn on the ground surrounding the truck.  He said Thompson’s last previous stop, the Libby Glass factory in Toledo, had recorded he was there about 12 hours before the crash.  “He reported in his log that he was sleeping during that time … so he committed a false log,” McNamara said.  “There is no indication he made any attempt to steer to the left.”  Thompson will stand trial for following too closely, driving at an unsafe speed, careless driving and reckless driving.


Thompson, who held a legal commercial driver’s license from Maryland, was returned to the county prison, where he is being held on $100,000 bond.