The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

January 5, 2014

Trucker in fatal I-80 crash fined, escapes jail

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

WOLF CREEK TOWNSHIP — A trucker involved in a fatal crash on Interstate 80 has been fined on four charges to which he pleaded guilty.

Wilfredo Suarez, 54, of Clifton, N.J., pleaded guilty Nov. 5 to charges of tampering with evidence, exceeding maximum axle weight, driving an unregistered truck and reckless driving.

Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert G. Yeatts could have sent him to jail for up to 1 to 2 years on the most serious charge, tampering with evidence, a second-degree felony, but instead fined Suarez $1,000 and costs on Dec. 30.

The other charges were summary offenses and the total amount of fines for all four charges was $1,350.

Suarez was driving a westbound tractor-trailer April 10 in Wolf Creek Township when the right rear tires went flat, state police said.

Suarez used the I-79 cloverleaf to turn around and head eastbound on I-80, police said.

Suarez ran the flats down to their rims, damaging the trailer taillights, police said.

Michael K. Holder, 55, of Lansing, Mich., was driving a minivan that ran into the back of the trailer at 3:36 a.m., police said. He was pronounced dead an hour later at Grove City Medical Center, Pine Township, police said.

Police said they ordered Suarez to stay put and not try to fix or alter the trailer while they went to interview medical personnel.

While police were gone, Suarez replaced the taillights, throwing the damaged ones over an embankment, police said.

Suarez was trying to save money by driving to a truck garage 4è miles away instead of stopping, police said, and he was traveling at 25 to 35 mph at the time of the crash in a 65 mph zone.