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Trucker charged in November highway deaths

Imagine getting killed on your way to your wedding. That was the fate of a Jersey City, New Jersey, couple, ages 35 and 42, who were traveling through Pennsylvania last November en route to their wedding in Pittsburgh.

The couple were headed west on Interstate 78 and passing through Berks County on Nov. 14 of last year. When they got near Hamburg in Windsor Township, traffic ahead of them came to a standstill.

Unfortunately, a truck driver was too engaged with his cellphone conversation to notice that the traffic ahead had halted. He slammed into the stopped vehicles, causing a chain-reaction collision that involved four additional tractor-trailers and the victims' sedan, which burst into flames upon impact.

The Fresno, California, truck driver, age 24, now faces charges of vehicular homicide, careless and reckless driving, and reckless endangering. The Pennsylvania State Police have issued a warrant for his arrest.

No semitruck driver should be using a handheld cellphone as he hurtles down the road. Neither should truck drivers allow themselves to become distracted behind the wheel, as they pose enormous dangers to themeslves and all others with whom they share the roads.

Because of this young truck driver's lapse of good judgment and alleged criminal negligence, three lives are irreparably altered — the two people who wound up buried instead of married and his own, as he likely will face a lengthy prison sentence should he be convicted on those charges.

While all motorists should pay attention to the road ahead of them and not to cellphones or other distractions, it's particularly important for drivers of big rigs to be mindful of their surroundings and the traffic conditions ahead of them due to the sheer magnitude of their size and weight in comparison to the much smaller passenger vehicles on the road.

There is no indication of any pending civil action against the driver responsible for this incident of highway carnage. However, survivors of victims killed in similar highway collisions may decide to file wrongful death litigation against those drivers who cost their loved ones their lives.

A State College personal injury attorney can provide advice and guidance to those facing similar circumstances.

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