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Truck Driver Gets 7 Years for 7 Child Deaths

Posted on June 13, 2008

It was one of the most horrible trucking accidents this area can
remember.

On January 25, 2006, a tractor-trailer driver reportedly fell asleep behind the wheel and drove his trailer into a car full of Lake Butler children waiting for a school bus.

All seven children died in an inferno. They were all from the same family.  And five children onboard a bus that was then hit by the car, not only witnessed the accident but were injured and taken to the hospital.

The driver, Alvin Wilkerson, of Jacksonville, Florida was facing seven counts of vehicular homicide and other charges. On Thursday afternoon, Wilkerson pleaded no contest to the seven courts and was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Mary Murphy had two children injured in the crash, thrown from the Union County school bus. They are still recovering, but she believes the seven years is not enough to compensate for the students who will never be the same. 

“There’;s not any word that could … the pain that my children have been in. They’;re only kids, and now they’;ve got to live with this for the rest of their lives too,” Murphy said. “Not enough. I believe there isn’;t enough time for what he did. But, we’;re not the only ones suffering. His family is too.”

In court Wilkerson, 33, apologized to the family and asked them not to look at him as a heartless person.  

There was no evidence of drug or alcohol in his system. Instead, Wilkerson had been hauling bottled water from High Springs to Jacksonville, Florida and had been up driving the tractor-trailer for 34 hours with only a short nap. 

The National Transportation Safety Board requires drivers to drive no more than 15 hours without an eight hour sleep.  

Studies have shown that deaths resulting from large truck accidents rose 3.1 percent between 2003-2004, the same years that drivers were allowed to stay on the roads 20 percent longer.

It is only logical to assume that longer on the road does not translate into safety for our citizens, especially the youngest ones. 

A trial attorney can help you determine the length of time a driver has spent on the road by obtaining the recording device onboard some tractor-trailers. 

Call Farah & Farah if you would like to have your questions answered about a tractor-trailer accident.