Local News

DA Seeks Felony Charges Against Trucker in I-85 Deaths

Posted December 16, 1996 12:00 a.m. EST

— A Virginia truck driver involved in one of the state's deadliest traffic collisions now faces felony charges and possible prison time.

A Durham County grand jury indicted Essau Dixon on eight counts of felony involuntary manslaughter, each of which carries a sentence of up to 20 months in prison. Dixon's tractor trailer rammed into several cars that had slowed down in a construction zone Aug. 23 on Interstate 85 in Durham County.

Until Monday, Dixon had only faced eight counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.

Seven of the eight victims were patients of John Umstead Hospital. They were in a the van returning to the hospital when Dixon's tractor trailer ran into the van on Interstate 85 north of Durham.

Dixon told investigators that his last memory before the crash was of a white van cutting off his truck.

Dixon's attorney, Tom Loflin, has said his client has suffered from unfair and inaccurate reporting.

Loflin says the truck's on-board computer showed that Dixon was traveling 56 mph just before the accident.

Mildred Davis' son, Kenneth Davis, who worked for Capitol Broadcasting Co., died eight days after the accident. She says she feels the driver did something wrong and should be held responsible.