LOGAN COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A lawsuit has been filed in Arkansas against trucking company Marten Transportation after an 18-wheeler accident killed a high school student earlier this year.
On January 13, on Highway 109 at Interstate 30 in Scranton, Cameron McKittrick was driving his SUV with his girlfriend, Traci Berger, in the passenger seat, and Traci’s brother, Trenton Barger, in the back seat on the driver’s side. They were travelling to visit Traci and Trenton’s grandfather.
The lawsuit claims that McKittrick was following traffic laws and keeping to his own lane when he approached a sharp curve.
Keith Gaynor, who was reportedly employed at Marten at the time of the incident, was driving an 18-wheeler for the company carrying a load from a Walmart distribution center.
Gaynor, approaching the curve from the opposite direction, reportedly ramped up speed with his loaded trailer to more than 65 miles per hour. The speed limit was 55 miles per hour.
“Keith Gaynor had a clear and unobstructed view of the curve ahead, as well as the warning signs lining the highway,” the complaint said.
The filing says that, failing to slow down in time, Gaynor “lost all control of his truck and crashed into the SUV driven by Cameron McKittrick and carrying Traci and Trenton Barger.”
The trailer rolled on top of the SUV and on top of Trenton Barger in the rear seat.
The crash killed Trenton, 15, a student at Scranton High School. Traci and McKittrick reportedly suffered severe injuries.
“Trenton Barger, undoubtedly, saw the Marten trailer as it began to crush the vehicle and then him; he had no chance to escape death,” the lawsuit said.
The complaint claims that, had Gaynor been sober, not distracted and followed traffic laws, the crash could have been avoided.
“Data from Marten’s truck, driven by Gaynor, shows that Gaynor sped up to more than thirty miles per hour over the warning speed, a speed that his loaded trailer could not handle, before heading into the curve where the crash occurred,” the complaint said.
Bailey and Oliver Law Firm, who is representing the plaintiffs in this case, say that records reflect Gaynor’s blood alcohol level exceeded the legal limit at the time of impact.
Gaynor was arrested in July and charged with manslaughter.
Amanda Barger, the victim’s mom, serving as a special administrator of Trenton Barger’s estate, has filed the wrongful death lawsuit against Marten Transportation.
The complaint, filed Aug. 3, describes the lawsuit as “a case of ordinary negligence, negligent training, negligent supervision, recklessness, injury and wrongful death as a result of conduct constituting a felony.”
Amanda Barger, Traci Barger and Cameron McKittrick are named as plaintiffs in the suit, while Marten Transport, LTD, Marten Transport Services, LTD, Marten Transport Logistics, LLC, Marten Transport of Wisconsin, LTD, Keith Gaynor and John Does 1-3 are named as defendants.
“Marten Transportation is located in Clarksville and has thousands of trucks and drivers on the road throughout the nation. The lawsuit alleges that Marten Transportation has a reckless safety culture, ultimately leading to this preventable crash,” a release from Bailey and Oliver Law Firm said.
The complaint says that the plaintiffs are requesting a jury trial not just for compensation, but to set a precedent.
“The plaintiffs in this case are not solely concerned with the compensation for their own harms and losses but seek a jury to set standards in the community that provide the incentive for the defendants and those similarly situated to prevent the occurrence of the same harm to the members of the community in the future,” the complaint said.
The plaintiffs are seeking damages including past and future medical expenses, past and future mental anguish, past and future lost income and other items.
Marten Transportation has not yet responded to request for comment.