Trucker involved in deadly wreck had slew of driving offenses

Posted at 8:25 PM, Dec 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-05 08:54:34-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) -- New questions are emerging about why a man with a questionable driving record was behind the wheel of a logging truck involved in a deadly wreck in Henrico County last week.

Sixty-year-old Karen Ann Whitaker, a beloved daycare teacher at Four Mile Creek Baptist church, was killed within yards of her job.

Police said a big rig t-boned Whitaker's Ford Mustang along New Market Road in eastern Henrico on the day before Thanksgiving.

Sam Grozdanov, the pastor at Four Mile Creek Baptist Church, said his heart sank when he spotted a police officer coming to the church's door.

"The most gracious person you could imagine. And if I can use just one word: she was a caretaker. She took care of everybody," said Grozdanov.

Grozdanov is troubled by news of the truck driver's safety violations.

"I'm so sad that somebody like this was even allowed to be on the road. This would not have happened," said Grozdanov.

Police said 42-year-old Clarence Risher of South Carolina was arrested and charged with multiple driving offenses, including reckless driving, in connection with the Route 5 crash.

Law enforcement said he should never have been driving the truck because his operator's license had been suspended in his home state.

Additionally, court records in South Carolina show that Risher has a lengthy criminal history.

And this is not the first time his company, CER Trucking, LLC, has gotten into trouble.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is a division of the U-S department of Transportation that regulates the trucking industry:

  1. July of 2012 -- Risher's company was hit with a speeding violation.
  2. February of 2013 -- One of Risher's trucks had to be taken off the road after drugs and alcohol were found in the vehicle.
  3. September of 2013 -- A driver had to park the truck for not having a valid operator's license or CDL license because of a safety violation.

Safety advocates said they are working closely with the federal officials to impose tighter restrictions and tougher penalties on truck drivers.

Risher is behind bars and is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 27.

RELATED: Trucker charged after deadly Henrico crash