Roseboro, N.C. — The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is investigating a Sampson County-based company that employs a driver who was charged in the hit-and-run death Tuesday of a 7-year-old girl.
An administration spokeswoman said officials opened the investigation into Ricky Lucas Trucking on Thursday, two days after the North Carolina State Highway Patrol says Johnny Allen Spell passed a stopped school bus, hit Alyiah McKenzie Morgan and kept driving.
Morgan, a first-grader at Union Elementary School, died on her way to a local hospital. Spell, 37, was arrested several hours later and charged with driving while impaired while operating a commercial motor vehicle, involuntary manslaughter and felony hit and run.
Federal investigators are looking into all aspects of Ricky Lucas Trucking, including its hiring practices, financial records and compliance, the spokeswoman said.
Any penalties, she said, could range from a fine to shutting down operations.
According to court records, Spell has multiple drug arrests and convictions dating back a decade, along with a DWI conviction in 2008.
The trucking company's owner, Ricky Lucas, said Thursday that he is fully cooperating with investigators, that he is sorry for what happened to Morgan and is praying for her family.
Lucas said he has one truck and drove it himself until he hired Spell about six months ago to replace him.
He did not do a background check, Lucas said, because he has known Spell since Spell was a boy and thought he knew him. Lucas said he had no idea about his criminal record.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Ricky Lucas Trucking has been in business since 2009.
Records show that earlier this month, the administration pulled Spell off the road because he hadn't paid a reinstatement fee for his commercial operator's license. It was later reinstated, and Spell's license was valid at the time of Tuesday's wreck.
The government is supposed to do on-site safety audits every two years on trucking companies, but, according to records, there have been none on the company since 2009.