Aug. 04–KINGSTON — The trucking company involved in a fatal motor vehicle crash in Florida that also hospitalized several local musicians with severe injuries has a checkered safety record, attorneys representing the survivors said at a press conference Monday.
Attorneys Greg Fellerman, Edward Ciarimboli and Neil O’Donnell are representing Janet Rains of Pittston, Robert Dressler of Plains Twp. and Jason McCloe of Wilkes-Barre.
Rains and McCloe are still in Florida, recovering from their injuries under medical care.
Dressler, McCloe and Rains — who is also known by the stage name “Jane Train” — were touring with the band Adrenaline Mob when a tractor-trailer hit the band’s RV and their van, which were pulled over on Interstate 75 on July 14 in Micanopy, Florida.
The crash killed the band’s bassist, David Zablidowsky, and left others with severe injuries.
At a press conference Monday, attorneys said they are looking into the safety record of Twiss Transport, Inc., a company based in Largo, Florida. Robert Haines was driving a tractor-trailer owned by Twiss during the crash.
“Typically, what we can tell you is that when tractor-trailer drivers and tractor-trailer companies are following the rules, tractor-trailers don’t just leave the roadway and strike vehicles that are well off the roadway and not moving,” Ciarimboli said.
The company received 87 violations during the past 24 months, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Of that total, 26 violations were for unsafe driving, 31 for hours-of-service compliance, 28 for vehicle maintenance and two for controlled substances and alcohol.
The company was also involved in 14 crashes, not including the Adrenaline Mob crash, including one which caused a fatality, and seven that caused injury.
The FMCSA cautions against drawing conclusions about a motor vehicle carrier’s overall safety simply based on the data displayed in its safety measurement system.
“Unless a motor carrier has received an unsatisfactory safety rating,” or has otherwise been ordered to stop operations, “it is authorized to operate on the nation’s roadways,” according to the agency’s website.
Twiss Transport has a “satisfactory” rating from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The agency also keeps records of when companies receive orders to remove a vehicle or driver from service.
Inspections took Twiss Transport vehicles off the road at a 4.8 percent rate. That’s lower than the national average of 20.7 percent.
The company’s driver out-of-service rate, however, was 6.7 percent, which is higher than the national average of 5.5 percent.
“In this case specifically, I would say that we have two fatalities, 87 violations, that’s in the last 24 months. I really couldn’t care less what their rating is. In this case, this guy was reckless, and he killed somebody. He injured six, seven people. His conduct was just woefully inadequate as a professional truck driver,” Fellerman said. “Those ratings don’t justify the true safety of the company. We’ll find out what their true safety records is as we get to serve interrogatories, requests for production of documents, all the true tools of litigation to really take a good hard look at a company and how safe they actually are.”
A call to Orlando-based attorney Gary Vasquez, who is representing Twiss, was not immediately answered. Deborah Harding, the company’s safety director, declined to comment.
The Florida Highway Patrol is still investigating the crash. The agency will decide whether to file charges after completing a homicide investigation, which could take 90 to 120 days or more, said Lt. Patrick V. Riordan.
Recovery and support
In the aftermath of the crash, family and friends of Rains, Dressler, McCloe and the band have offered incredible support, Ciarimboli said.
“One of the things that they wanted to express to everybody is their sincere appreciation in keeping thoughts and prayers for Janet and everyone that was involved in this crash. It’s been overwhelming, the support that this community has provided to these local individuals and these musicians,” he said.
He also asked people to not spread rumors online about the conditions of the crash survivors, some of which have been circulating on social media.
Rains is recovering in a burn unit in Gainesville, Florida, and will likely be there for a considerable amount of time, Ciarimboli said. McCloe is in a long-term care facility in Orlando. Dressler has returned home. Benefits are planned to support the survivors, and a GoFundMe campaign called “Official Jane Train Recovery Fund” is also raising money.
“They have very long roads ahead of them,” Ciarimboli said.
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Several benefits are planned to raise funds for crash survivors:
“Jane Train Benefit Show”
When: 4 p.m., Aug. 6
Where: Irish Wolf Pub, 503 Linden St., Scranton.
What: The event will feature several bands, drinks, food and prayers for Jane. There is a $10 suggested donation.
“Rockin’ the Jane Train”
When: 2 p.m., Oct. 1
Where: Ole Tyme Charley’s Restaurant & Pub, 31 S River St., Plains Twp.
What: The event will feature several bands, raffles and a silent auction.
“Jane Jam: A benefit for local Adrenaline Mob members”
When: 6 p.m., Oct. 12
Where: The Woodlands Inn, 1073 Highway 315, Plains Twp.
What: Numerous bands will perform and proceeds will benefit Janet Rains and Jason McCole. There is a $10 suggested donation.
The “Official Jane Train Recovery Fund” on GoFundMe.com is raising money for Rain’s recovery. The campaign had raised more than $16,000 as of 6 p.m. Thursday.
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