NEWS 3 is learning more on the investigation into the crash that killed five Georgia Southern University nursing students and injured two last spring. The driver of the tractor-trailer involved in the crash has admitted to texting at the time, and the trucking company who hired him says that decision was a mistake.
Killed in that crash were five young women: Abbie DeLoach, Caitlyn Baggett, Emily Clark, Catherine McKay Pittman, and Morgan Bass.
Attorney Bob Cheeley is handling lawsuits filed against the trucking company by victims and victims’ families. He says truck driver John Wayne Johnson admitted under oath to texting when the crash happened on I-16 on April 22, and adds that messages he received contained nude images of a woman, as his truck’s cab was filled with pornography.
Back when the crash happened, an eye witness described the scene to NEWS 3. “I was sitting in my truck, and probably five to 10 seconds after it stopped, I heard a loud bang. I saw a tractor trailer pushing a large tanker truck that had stopped, past me,” said William Robeholt.
Of the two women injured, Megan Richards’ father, Dalton Richards described what he had heard of the scene saying, “[Megan] remembers kind of yelling, kind of screaming in the car after the accident happened.”
Jimmy DeLoach, father of Abbie DeLoach, told NEWS 3, “there’s that sense of emptiness, that sense of non-directional pain, that you can only understand because you’ve been in abyss,” on losing his daughter.
Now, Emily Clark’s parents are speaking-out.
“We just want justice for our girls. There’s nothing that could, that could take that pain away,” Emily’s mother, Karen Clark, says.
“It was so preventable. It was just so preventable,” says her father, Craig Clark.
Their attorney, Cheeley, shows truck driver Johnson’s application to Total Transportation, revealing he had been fired from two other truck companies previously.
“[The company’s safety director] said that he didn’t have a good excuse for why they hired him. But I believe I know why they hired him. They were trying to fill as many trucks with as many drivers, to grow this company as rapidly as possible,” Cheeley says.
Johnson had been fired from one company, for falling asleep at the wheel, overturning the truck and totaling it.
This information is difficult for the Clarks to hear.
“You run on a whole gamut of emotions, from anger to disbelief, to heartbreak,” Craig Clark says.
“One mistake can change so many people’s lives. You’ve got to be responsible,” Karen Clark says.
Back in May, another crash survivor, Brittni McDaniel, told NEWS 3:
“I consider myself blessed to be alive after this horrible collision and back with my family and children. I want to thank everyone who helped pull me from the wreckage and brought me to safety and the hospital staff who cared for me at Memorial Hospital in Savannah. My heart goes out to the families of my fellow classmates who died and were injured in this collision, and my prayers are with them and their families. I have a long road to recovery, but someday I know I will reach my dream of being a nurse.”