The driver of a tractor trailer involved in a two-vehicle accident on I-75 last Thursday afternoon had admitted to being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and was sentenced Monday in Whitley District Court.
54-year-old Richard Van Lannen, of Cato, Wisconsin, was arrested and charged with DUI and for violating federal safety regulations following the crash last week. He was lodged in the Whitley County Detention Center and released following his court appearance Monday.
Whitley District Judge Cathy E. Prewitt gave Van Lannen 30 days in jail, probated for two years provided he has no further violations, a fine of $250 and suspended his license to drive for 90 days. He also must attend DUI classes.
According to Steve Douglas, public information officer for Kentucky State Police Division of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, Van Lannen was traveling south on I-75 when he lost control of his 2014 Kenworth tractor trailer at about the eight-mile marker, hit the cable barrier, then crossed the median before coming back into the southbound lane of traffic. He collided with a 2009 Dodge SUV driven by 40-year-old Tracy Hoshaw of Greenwood, Ind.
The accident happened at about 4:00 p.m. Thursday.
During an investigation into the crash, officers discovered prescription drug medication and alcohol in the tractor-trailer. Van Lannen was arrested at the scene.
According to his arrest citation, Van Lannen said he “blacked out” while driving just before the accident. He failed field sobriety tests, and told police that he had taken prescribed medications for a toothache.
Authorities also found Pabst Blue Ribbon beer in the truck. Commercial vehicle drivers are barred, by federal regulations, from possessing alcohol while driving.
"The cable barrier slowed him down enough to where he was able to get it back on the road," Douglas said. "He was actually under the influence of prescription medication."
"No one was seriously injured," Douglas added. "Everyone was just shook up and he was impaired. He was kind of lucky because it looked really bad."
Van Lannen was taken to Baptist Health Corbin for a blood test before being transported to jail.
Traffic was rerouted down US 25 south in Williamsburg. It took crews about two hours to clear I-75 to allow free flow of traffic.
Douglas said crews had to clean up diesel fuel spilled on the roadway when the truck’s fuel tank ruptured.
Van Lannen was driving for Pfister Farms Trucking LLC out of New Holstein, Wisc. and was hauling a load of whey to Burlington, NC.
Vehicle Enforcement Officer Chris McQueen is investigated the crash. He was assisted at the scene by other Vehicle Enforcement Officers, Williamsburg Police, Williamsburg Fire Department, Emlyn Fire Department, Whitley County Emergency Management and the Kentucky State Highway Department.