ROCKLAND — The driver of a logging truck that caused a chain-reaction crash on Route 17 in Washington on March 18 that killed two people and injured himself and one of the other drivers, has been arrested and charged with manslaughter and aggravated operating under the influence.
Randall Weddle, 53, of Greenvillle, Tenn., was taken into custody by the Russell County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia Friday afternoon, May 6, according to Knox County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tim Carroll in a press release. Weddle was arrested on warrants out of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, which investigated the horrific crash in which one of the vehicles, a 1998 Chrysler van, was struck by the trailer and its load of lumber, causing the van to immediately burst into flames as it was pushed off the road into an adjacent field.
Inside the van, which was the last vehicle struck, was 45-year-old Christina Torres-York of Warren. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Also pronounced dead at the scene was 74-year-old Paul Fowles of Owls Head, who was driving a 2009 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck. Fowles’ truck was the first vehicle to be struck by Weddle’s 1998 Freighliner tractor-trailer, as it rounded a curve, crossed the center line into oncoming traffic and the trailer began to roll, according to the accident report. Fowles’ truck went off the road and came to rest in a ditch.
The next vehicle struck was a 2014 Nissan sedan driven by 51-year-old Tracy Cook of Union. Cook’s Nissan was struck by the trailer, rolled once and then struck a 2015 Kia sedan being driven by 33-year-old Tracy Morgan of Washington. Cook’s Nissan ultimately came to rest back on its wheels in the field off the road, and Morgan was able to take evasive action and avoid being struck by the trailer.
Morgan escaped injury, as did a passenger in Weddle’s truck, identified as Lowell Babb of Virginia. Cook sustained injuries in the accident, as did Weddle, who had to be extricated from the cab of the Freightliner.
According to Carroll, a combined investigation with the Knox County Sheriff's Office, Maine State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement and Crash Reconstruction divisions provided enough information to the District Attorney's Office to draft warrants for Weddle's arrest.
Weddle has been charged with two counts of manslaughter, Class A felonies, and two counts of aggravated operating under the influence, Class B felonies. Due to the serious of the crimes, it was determined that Weddle should be arrested immediately, said Carroll in the release. He also said it is likely more charges will come as further reviews are made into the evidence gathered.
Weddle remains in custody in Virginia, with no bail allowed, and he is awaiting the extradition process to Maine and Knox County.
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