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Trial Begins for Marten Transport

. By
Laramie, WYAn August 19, 2004 pileup east of Laramie on Interstate 80 that led to the death of 25-year-old Sarahy Bringas is said to be the responsibility of Marten Transport Limited and one of its drivers.

A total of 66 people and 36 vehicles were involved in the August 19 pileup just before 10:30 a.m. that day. When the Wyoming Highway Patrol arrived on the scene, they divided the entire accident up into 7 events in which event number 4 was the one that involved young Sarahy Bringas. Event number 4 involved 16 vehicles that also included 10 tractor trailers.

However, Bringas' fatality was not the only one. There were a total of 4 fatalities that also involved both the Paguaga and Bringas families, but only the death of Bringas is of concern in the civil lawsuit that has been filed. Those killed in the crash in addition to Bringas were, Jackelyn Paguaga, Jose Noel Paguaga, and Noelia Sarahy Paguaga.

The jury, along with two alternatives, was selected on Monday in the case that alleges that a driver for Marten Transport Limited, Donald R. Stevens, was driving well over the speed limit in foggy conditions. As a result, Stevens' truck collided with a tractor trailer belonging to Central Refrigerated Services that was driven by Jose Noel Paguaga.

Bringas and her three children would sometimes ride with Jose Noel Paguaga in his truck. They were actual residents of Utah, but were passing through Wyoming at the time. Because Bringas was killed in the crash, the case was filed on behalf of Bringas' estate by estate representative Gloria Valee Toledo. She is also filing on behalf of Cinthya Azucena Paguaga, daughter of Bringas.

The attorney for Toledo and Paguaga, Tony Lopez, has stated that there is a witness who helped Stevens out of his truck after the collision and noticed there was smoke coming out of the cab of Paguaga's truck. However, the accident-reconstruction expert witness does not know if the death of Bringas was due to the fire or from the actual collision. Accident reconstruction could not determine this.

The attorney for Marten Transport and Stevens, Greg Greenlee, says that there is evidence that Stevens' truck never made contact with the cab section of Paguaga's truck. He does state that Stevens' truck did hit the side of Paguaga's truck, but did not hit the tractor or the cab section.

Greenlee has also stated that there is evidence that Paguaga was exceeding the speed limit in foggy conditions, which caused his truck to jackknife across the highway.

In Lopez's arguments, he asked the jury that an unspecified amount of damages be awarded to Toledo and Paguaga after considering the evidence. When Lopez had initially questioned the jurors, he asked them if they would have a problem with him seeking $5 or $10 million for his clients.

Greenlee asked the jury in his arguments to find that Marten Transport and Stevens were not negligent nor responsible for the death of Bringas.

Following the arguments, the first witness was called by Lopez, which was Lt. Klief Guenther of the Wyoming Highway Patrol. Guenther recalled the scene and how each vehicle was involved in the seven separate events. He did state that because a fire had occurred in the middle of event 4, reconstructing the event was very difficult. He stated that the investigation by the patrol had made the determination that the Marten Transport truck was the last vehicle that had appeared on the scene.

The trial is expected to last until late next week. When the trial opened, Stevens hugged Toledo and told her that he was sorry for her loss.

By Ginger Gillenwater

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
i have been with marten for many years and the policy is if weather is bad to stop i have done it many times during snow and fog with no problems from the company none of the loads that i have seen are over weight though sometimes they are close we are in the business of hauling freight and if you cant do that then find a different job plain and simple

Posted by

on
I'M A FORMER DRIVER FOR MARTEN TRANSPORT THIS COMPANY WAS TRYING TO KILL ME FROM THE VERY BEGINNING IF YOU MESS WITH ONE COMPANY YOU MESS THEM ALL I GOT PERMISSION TO FILE A LAWSUIT FROM THE EEOC BUT COULD NOT FIND A LAWER.IT STARTED IN ORIENTATION THEY PRETENDED THEY COULDN'T GET ME IN THERE SYSTEM SO I COULDN'T GET LIFE INSURANCE THEY ALLOWED ME TO DRIVE UNINSURED AND THEN THEY ASSIGNED ME TO A TRACTOR WITH 599.000 MILES ON IT THE TRACTOR HAD A BAD ENGINE BREAK ON IT THEY HAD TO GIVE ME ANOTHER TRACTOR BECAUSE OF THE MOLED THAT WAS IN IT AND THEY GAVE ME THE HEAVIEST LOADS THESE COMPANIES DO FAVORS FOR EACH OTHER I HAVE TRUCK NUMBERS TRIP NUMBERS THIS WAS MY THIRD COMPANY AND THEY REALLY TRYED TO KILL ME BECAUSE THE OTHER TWO WAS UNSUCCESSFUL THIS COMPANY IS EVIL THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT THE PUBLIC AS MUCH AS YOU THINK NOT ALL TRUCK ACCIDENTS ARE ACCIDENTS JUST LIKE A CRAZY FIREMAN WOULD SET A FIRE THESE PEOPLE LIKE TO HEAR AND SEE CRASHSES I HAVE SO MUCH PROFF IF I CAN BE OF ANY HELP PLEASE CONTACT ME THROUGH MY EMAIL ADDRESS THE PUBLIC HAVE NO IDEA.

Posted by

on
The 4 fatalities listed apply only to that section of the accident, not the entire 36 vehicle pileup. Marten trucks are governed at 65 MPH, and I can speak from experience with the company that they do push drivers to do the impossible. I have had statements come across the qualcomm (running teams) that said "You are a team, your truck should never stop" "You are a team, so you can't run out of hours" and the best one of all "You are allowed to work 14 hours a day, so you should be able to get 28 hours driving in each and every day".

Jamie...Sorry for your loss.

Posted by

on
I agree with jd. The companies push these guys above and beyond their limits. However, its your life in your hands....pull over. Its just a job when it comes to your life. BUT I do have another problem with the person who wrote this article. There was not only four fatalities in this crash, in which I know this for a FACT. Why you ask? My mother and little brother were there that day and lost their lives. If your going to write an article about this, get your damn facts straight.

Posted by

on
These companies push these drivers to the limit. These trucks can only go so fast and the company does not care what kind of weather you are in they still want ON TIME DELIVERY. If not they will write you up. The company and driver both need to be responsiable still. The driver needed to slow down and or pull over to the next safest stop there is until weather cleared up. Also I know for a fact it is against not only DOT Rules and Laws but to have 3 or 4 people in a cab of a truck is out right wrong and stupid. If Central did not carry his whole family with him then there would not have been that much of a loss. What was that driver and company thinking?? They are all GUILTY of being STUPID. If there is BAD weather and can not see, STOP and PULL OVER to a SAFE place. Do not keep driving like a stupid person.

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