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Published: Friday, 3/30/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Truck driver pleads not guilty in fatal highway accident

BLADE STAFF
John Tucker appears Friday in Maumee Municipal Court. John Tucker appears Friday in Maumee Municipal Court.
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A Flint, Mich. truck driver charged in an August chain-reaction crash pleaded not guilty Friday morning in Maumee Municipal Court to misdemeanor criminal and traffic charges.

Municipal Court Judge Gary Byers granted a recognizance bond for John N. Tucker, 65, who appeared in court with his attorney, George Gerken. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for May 23.

Mr. Tucker is charged with three counts each of vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter. In a separate traffic case, he is charged with three counts of fatality through the negligent operation of a commercial motor vehicle.

The charges were filed last week, about a month after a Lucas County grand jury declined to indict Mr. Tucker on felony charges related to the crash.

Killed in the Aug. 4 crash were James South, 68, of Monclova Township; Dale Barnhiser, 52, of Grand Rapids, Ohio, and Jodi Lubas, 40, of Maumee. Diana Dixon, 48, of Coraopolis, Pa., was injured.

Authorities said Mr. South’s pickup became disabled in the right lane of northbound I-475 after a collision with a tractor-trailer driven by Michael Borowy, 55, of Warren, Mich., about 5:25 a.m.

Both Ms. Lubas and Ms. Dixon had stopped and gotten out of their vehicles to offer assistance when Mr. Tucker’s semi-trailer slammed into Mr. South’s pickup, killing Mr. South and Ms. Lubas. Ms. Dixon survived because she jumped from the freeway viaduct and fell to the Ohio Turnpike’s median to avoid being hit.

A Toyota Camry driven by Jodi Lubas, 40, of Maumee, is among several vehicles involved in a pair of collisions on I-475/U.S. 23. Ms. Lubas, who had stopped to provide assistance to victims of an earlier crash, was standing on the highway when she was struck and killed. A Toyota Camry driven by Jodi Lubas, 40, of Maumee, is among several vehicles involved in a pair of collisions on I-475/U.S. 23. Ms. Lubas, who had stopped to provide assistance to victims of an earlier crash, was standing on the highway when she was struck and killed.
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Mr. Barnhiser also was involved in the collision. He was killed when he was thrown from his motorcycle and landed in a field adjacent to the crash scene.

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