Truck Safety Update

The driver who lost control of an overloaded dump truck when its brakes malfunctioned on steep Nohl Ranch Road — resulting in the death of a Los Alamitos man and injuries to six other people — was recently told that he should be tried for gross vehicular manslaughter.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Pear argued that driver Anthony Saiz, 47, should stand trial because, among other things, he failed to conduct a proper pre-trip inspection of the brakes before leaving the yard with a dump truck loaded with gravel. Pear claimed that Saiz’s failure to identify the braking problems before “launching this death missile down a 12 percent grade” amounted to criminal liability for vehicular manslaughter. Pear also contended that Saiz was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the March 8 crash. Deputy Public Defender Phillip L. Zalewski argued that the primary cause of the accident was brake failure and that Saiz did everything he could to avoid a collision — waving his arms, honking his horn and trying to steer away from other vehicles.

Superior Court Judge James Perez agreed after a two-day preliminary hearing that the combination of circumstances was sufficient to warrant a trial.

With Saiz behind the wheel, the runaway dump truck raced through the intersection at Nohl Ranch Road and Imperial Highway and slammed into a sport utility vehicle driven by optometrist Dr. Kenneth Larkin. Dr. Larkin was killed instantly, and six other people were seriously injured. Aitken * Aitken * Cohn are aggressively pursuing a civil lawsuit on behalf of the Larkin family, and are gratified that the authorities are taking a strong stand against those who put unsafe commercial vehicles on our roadways.