A truck driver who slammed his rig into a sedan on the Schuylkill Expressway in January 2009, killing a Fort Washington man, was sentenced Monday to 18 months in a federal lockup.
Valerijs Nikolaevish Belovs, 58, of Somerton, pleaded guilty in October to federal charges that he had falsified his driver's logs.
The Jan. 23, 2009, crash killed businessman David Schreffler and seriously injured a passenger in his car when Belovs' rig — loaded with more than 37?1/2 tons of broccoli — slammed into stopped traffic, pinning Schreffler's car under the truck.
Schreffler's family is still trying to cope with the loss. "I have absolutely no forgiveness for this defendant," the victim's brother Kenneth testified, looking directly at Belovs. "This was entirely preventable. All you had to do was pull over and stop," he continued, as Belovs glared back.
Instead, Schreffler said, his brother was suddenly "hit by a 20-ton bomb, and all he could do was sit there and take it."
A veteran accident investigator with the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office testified that an examination of the rig's brakes days after the accident showed they had failed. He said it was the "worst vehicle" he had ever seen on the road "in terms of its braking capability."
"If I could only give back that day, I would," Belovs had told U.S. District Judge James Knoll Gardner. Federal defender Benjamin Brait Cooper said Belovs had told his boss, during a cross-country haul, that the rig's brakes were failing but was told to keep driving. "He made a terrible mistake," Cooper said.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Reed suggested that Belovs kept driving because "keeping his job was more important than keeping the public safe."
Federal law mandates that commercial truck driversdrive no more than 11 hours a day without resting for at least 10 hours and that they must certify that their logs are accurate.
Federal prosecutors said Belovs had exceeded the limit of his maximum driving hours when the crash occurred.
Previously, Belovs pleaded guilty to state vehicular-homicide charges in Montgomery County and was sentenced in April 2010 to three to 23 months in jail plus five years' probation.
Two other defendants — a truck inspector who provided a false sticker and the truck's owner — also served prison time in the case. n