Family of Henrico woman killed by truck driver to file three lawsuits

Posted at 10:15 PM, May 19, 2014

HENRICO, Va. (WTVR) -- The family of Henrico woman hit and killed by a semi-truck driver in November 2013 say they plan to file three lawsuits related to the case.

Karen Ann Whitaker was killed when a tractor-trailer driven by Clarence Risher Jr. hit her car on Route 5 in Henrico. Risher pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in April.

“We are devastated, my mom was the center of all of us,” Tammy Harris, Whitaker’s daughter, told CBS 6 in her first interview since the crash.

Harris and other family members are now asking questions about why Risher was on the road in the first place.

CBS 6 asked Harris if she thought the tragedy could have been prevented.

“Absolutely, 100 percent,” Harris said.

CBS 6 first told you the trucking company Risher worked for, CER Trucking, which was owned by his father, Clarence Risher, was cited by the government for a number of violations before the crash.

We have now uncovered a warning letter sent to the company by the feds eight months before the crash for controlled substance and alcohol violations, but the company was not shut down.

Additionally, booze, methamphetamine and cocaine were found inside the big-rig the day of the crash.

CBS 6 showed Harris the letter for the first time on Monday.

“Obviously they`re not being enforced the way they need to be, somebody, their sole job needs to focus on that one area to make sure the companies are doing what they need to do,” Harris said.

Harris also wonders why a shipping company hired CER Trucking to haul its products, especially, when a trucking company’s violation record is available online.

“I don't think they did a thorough background check,” Harris said.

Now, her family plans to file three lawsuits and hopes to work toward change in the trucking industry.

“If we as a family could save one other person`s life by having stricter laws and penalties -- that`s what we want,” Harris said.

A spokesperson from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration told CBS 6 they have a system in place that makes sure the more violations a trucking company has, the more they are inspected.

But, the Executive Director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, Steve Keppler, told CBS 6 the system can sometimes overlook smaller trucking companies because they just do not rack up as many violations as a larger company would due to their smaller size.



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