Truck owner knew truck in deadly crash was faulty, prosecutors charge

A commercial truck owner and a truck driver have both been charged with vehicular manslaughter for allegedly operating a vehicle with bad brakes and worn tires that caused the death of another truck driver in a Marysville, CA, crash last year.

According to the Yuba County District Attorney’s Office trucker Gary Mathis, 43, was killed June 28, 2011, on Highway 20 in Marysville when his truck owned by Recology Inc. collided with a semi-truck hauling two empty trailers traveling in the opposite direction.

District Attorney Pat McGrath said investigators determined problems with the brakes and tires of a semi-truck — owned, at least in part, by Jasbir Singh Sangha of JS Trucking in Yuba City, CA — caused the trailers to fishtail, which contributed to “a further loss of control” of the vehicle.

McGrath told the Appeal-Democrat that Sangha knew the tractor-trailer was deficient and encouraged “its continued operation despite the danger it could pose to other motorists. The deficiencies would be readily apparent during any regular maintenance or pre-trip inspection and easily correctable,” McGrath said.

Sangha, 31, and the truck driver, Ernest Allan Coublucq, 74, were charged with single misdemeanor counts of vehicular manslaughter and providing false documents to investigators, a felony.

Sangha denied owning the truck, prosecutors said, but investigators do not believe him. McGrath said Sangha “attempted to shield himself from responsibility” by doctoring phony lease and liability waivers after the collision. The suspected bogus document was dated before the collision and supposedly signed by the driver, McGrath said.

“Further investigation determined the document was fraudulent,” McGrath said.

If convicted, both the trucking company owner and driver face up to four years each behind bars.

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