Booze, meth and coke found inside big-rig that killed Henrico woman

Posted at 11:48 PM, Jan 03, 2014

HENRICO, Va. (WTVR)--The federal government shut down a trucking company involved in a deadly wreck in Henrico County the day before Thanksgiving.

According to an “Out-Of-Service Order” issued on Dec. 17 by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, CER Trucking, LLC, based in South Carolina, is an imminent hazard.

Police charged Clarence Edward Risher, Jr. with a slew of charges, including reckless driving and driving without a license, after the wreck.

Risher is the son of CER Trucking, LLC's owner, Clarence Edward Risher.

The feds said police found an open container of alcohol, methamphetamine, and cocaine inside Risher’s truck after the crash.

Sixty-year-old Karen Ann Whitaker was killed when police said a big-rig driven by Risher T-boned her car.

After the crash, the FMCSA initiated an investigation into CER Trucking, LLC.

Investigators found the company to be “reckless” with “almost nonexistent management safety oversight.”

In fact, during the investigation, they found three of the company’s four drivers were not even qualified to drive commercial motor vehicles.

One driver’s truck driving license had been suspended for almost four years, and another driver was convicted of marijuana possession while working, according to the order.

In a phone conversation, Whitaker’s daughter Tammy Harris told CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit that it is a “tragedy that it took my mom’s death before this was investigated.”

Harris said she wished the company was investigated a long time ago, and she asked Melissa, “why weren’t they enforced prior to this?  Why did it have to take a tragedy for this to be brought up now?”

Dale Bennett with the Virginia Trucking Association said there are a number of enforcement methods in place to keep tabs on truckers.

“They have computers and technology at the roadside to select vehicles/drivers for inspection, and at the federal level they have databases set up to target those companies that are having safety issues for close audits and inspections,” Bennett said.

A spokesperson from the FMCSA told Melissa that national database keeps track of violations using a formula to highlight the companies that need the most oversight.

But, Stephen Keppler, with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, said sometimes smaller trucking companies, like CER Trucking, LLC, can slip through the cracks.

“When you have such a small carrier you`re going to have those types of situations where you don`t have all the data in there based on the algorithm,” Keppler said.

Because this is an ongoing investigation, the FMCSA would not talk about CER Trucking, Inc. specifically.

Keppler said the agency is constantly re-evaluating the process by which it monitors companies, particularly when it comes to smaller carriers.

Note: In the video version of this story, we referred to the person charged in the crash as Clarence Edward Risher, the owner of CER Trucking, LLC.   In fact, the person charged was Clarence Edward Risher Jr., the owner's son.