A Florida tractor-trailer driver has been charged with negligent homicide after a crash Monday afternoon near Monrovia killed two people and injured three others, including the truck’s driver, according to Maryland State Police.
Police arrested Watson Pierre, 34, of Sunrise, Fla., Monday night after he was treated for injuries from the crash and released from the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, state police said in a news release.
He was charged with two counts of criminally negligent homicide and one count of failure to control speed to avoid a collison, police said.
The state police crash team obtained a warrant for Pierre’s arrest after identifying him as the driver of a tractor-trailer that overturned onto a pickup truck on Md. 75 at about 2 p.m., police said.
Pierre was being held Tuesday on $100,000 bond at the Frederick County Detention Center. A trial date has been scheduled for him for Jan. 22, 2013, in Frederick County Circuit Court, according to online court records.
The crash scene at Md. 75 north of Md. 144 and south of Md. 26 was shut down at 2 p.m. Monday and remained closed for about nine hours as police investigated the accident. It has since been reopened.
A preliminary investigation determined that the tractor-trailer loaded with oranges was northbound on Md. 7 north of New Market when it rounded a sharp curve at Ed McClain Road and overturned onto a southbound Ford F-450 pickup truck, the release said.
The tractor-trailer is registered to Noble Enterprise Transport LLC of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The Ford F-450 is owned by Garey Construction Inc., police said.
The speed of the tractor-trailer is part of the investigation and has yet to be determined, said Greg Shipley, a state police spokesman.
“Our investigators are still working determining what caused that to occur,” Shipley said.
Two people inside the pickup were dead at the scene. They were identified as Hector N.C. Henriquez, 46, of Gaithersburg and Jose R. Diaz, 54, of Derwood, police said.
A second passenger from the pickup truck, identified as Jose C. Cedillo, 37, of Gaithersburg, was flown by state police helicopter to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center with what were believed to be life-threatening injuries, police said.
Erochenel Bernadin, 42, of Deerfield Beach, Fla., was a passenger in the tractor-trailer. He was also transported by ambulance to Frederick Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries and later released, police said.
It was unclear Tuesday whether the tractor-trailer was traveling to a Costco distribution center on Intercoastal Drive near the crash site. In the past, some area residents have complained about Md. 75 being unsafe for large trucks due to sharp curves in the road and a low hanging railroad bridge.
Signs from the Maryland State Highway Administration warn of the bridge’s low clearance.
But Jennifer Cerrito, a manager at the Costco depot, said that the distribution center has not received any complaints this year about trucks using Md. 75 to get there.
“We haven’t had any complaints this year, [but] there were some when we first opened [in 2010],” Cerrito said. “We have no information that [the load in this crash] was headed here or not.”
Shipley said several issues were found to be wrong with the tractor-trailer after it was inspected by the state Monday and late Tuesday. Police are still investigating whether these problems contributed to Monday’s crash.
“We don’t know if any of this is contributory to the crash at this time. That’s part of the investigation,” he said.
Inspectors found that three out of 10 of the vehicles’ brakes were not working, and three other brakes were “out of adjustment,” Shipley said.
Shipley also said that because Noble Enterprise Transport LLC did not pay an apportionment fee required by the state for vehicles of 26,000 pounds or more to operate on state roads, they were not technically allowed to operate commercially in Maryland.