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Published: Saturday, 3/31/2012 - Updated: 3 years ago

Michigan trucker pleads not guilty in deadly crash

John Tucker of Flint, Mich., left, appears in Maumee Municipal Court with attorney George Gerken. John Tucker of Flint, Mich., left, appears in Maumee Municipal Court with attorney George Gerken.

A Michigan truck driver charged in an August chain-reaction crash that left three people dead pleaded not guilty Friday to misdemeanor charges in Maumee Municipal Court.

Judge Gary Byers allowed John N. Tucker, 65, of Flint to remain free on a recognizance bond and scheduled a pretrial hearing in the case for May 23.

Mr. Tucker, who appeared in court with Toledo attorney George Gerken, is charged with three counts each of vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter. He also is charged with three traffic 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.

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.

Both Mr. Tucker and his attorney declined to comment after the brief arraignment.

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