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Trucker gets year in jail for fatal crash

January 23, 2009 1:00:44 PM PST
A truck driver is sentenced to one year in jail on Friday for a fatal big rig accident that killed three children.Family and friends of the young victims were in court for the sentencing in Newport Beach. While they did not speak, they held hands, and at times, Lori Coble, the mother of the victims, cried.

The defendant Jorge Miguel Romero from Apple Valley was sentenced to 364 days in jail and five years probation, during which he cannot drive a commercial truck.

Romero's attorney Andrew Roth said Romero has no plans to ever drive a big rig again.

The 38-year-old driver had pleaded no contest last August to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter after the big rig he was driving crashed into the back of the Coble's minivan that was stopped in traffic on Interstate 5 near Oso Parkway in May 2007. The collision killed 5-year-old Kyle and his two sisters Emma, 4, and Katie, 2. All three children had been strapped in their car seats.

"If you can imagine yourself being involved in an accident, and getting out and seeing the results, seeing three children trapped in a car, the criminal proceedings really aren't as significant as what he went through that day and what he goes through every day thinking about it," Roth said

Authorities accused Romero of negligence because he was inattentive and didn't keep enough distance between his truck and others that were stopped in traffic.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Craig Robison also said cell phone records indicated Romero may have been checking his voicemail on his cell phone at the time of the collision.

The defense said Caltrans was partly responsible for not improving traffic flow in an area that was prone to backups and accidents.

The sentence was no surprise to either side because it was within the sentencing range.

The family did not talk during or after the sentencing. Their attorney said it was partial closure for them, but they have also filed a civil lawsuit in the case.

While the Coble family waits for the civil lawsuit, they are taking care of their three children: Lori Coble gave birth to triplets ? two girls and a boy -- last May.


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