Local News

Trucker Still Not Charged, Continues To Drive After Fatal Accident

Posted January 20, 2004

— Exactly one week since a tractor-trailer hit a school bus and killed a 6-year old girl, no one has been charged.

The truck driver even told troopers he was looking for a cell phone when he hit the bus. People are wondering why it has taken so long to close the case.

The wreck seemed straightforward. A truck rear-ended a school bus.

Nevertheless, troopers said Tuesday they are not done investigating.

"I don't think it should take this long; I really don't," said Maxton resident Wanda Lassiter. "I don't think it should take that long at all."

Maxton residents see the case as open and shut.

Troopers do not.

"If there's part on that truck that failed that caused it not to brake," said Sgt. Joel Siles, of the N.C. Highway Patrol," or an air line that failed. . . "

Investigators have to check everything and assume nothing.

They took aerial photos of the scene and measurements on the ground.

But reconstructing the wreck can take four to six weeks, even when it looks like a slam-dunk.

"All that measuring, taping, marking, photography that has been is being put together now into a readable report to the district attorney," Siles said. "And that takes some time."

The district attorney said he is waiting for the troopers' report before deciding on charges.

In the meantime, the truck driver, Gary Garnett, still has his commercial driver's license. Until he is charged or cited, it is perfectly valid.

"I think they should have automatically taken his license until they got a further investigation on this," Lassiter said.

Troopers said they expect the investigation to wrap up soon.

They would rather find answers now than field questions down the road.

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