Police are investigating a Nov. 13 morning accident at the end of Hardy's new truck route that left a Kansas man dead.
Larry Coleman, 51, of Parsons, Kan., was in the sleeper of an eastbound 1996 Triton semi with a van-like trailer when the driver, Alvin Hurn, lost control, causing the truck to run a stop sign, cross the highway, travel through a ditch and strike the railroad tracks, said James Hutchison, Hardy assistant chief of police. The wreck occurred at 5:53 a.m. near the intersection of Highway 63 and Highway 63B, he said.
The truck's right front corner hit the track at a slight angle. The tractor trailer broke apart and lost its load of soy chocolate milk. The truck landed on its right side on the tracks, Hutchison said.
Coleman was in the sleeper and was thrown into the right front seat area of the truck, Hutchison said, adding that Coleman weighed about 400 pounds.
Hurn, 49, of Kansas City, Kan., also told police that Coleman was alive and talking after the crash and complained of chest pain.
"Instead of helping him, the driver left the truck and went to get help, I guess. Then when help got there, Coleman was dead," Hutchison said.
Sharp County Deputy Coroner Tim McComas pronounced Coleman dead at 6:15 a.m. His body was sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for an autopsy, Hutchison said.
Hurn told police his jake brake system failed. Then the tractor and trailer brakes failed, but it was too late to slow using gears, he said.
"The driver said the brakes failed and said he had just got the truck out of the mechanic at Neosho, Mo., for brake problems," Hutchison said. "That truck was unsafe. It probably should have never left the lot."
The Arkansas Department of Transportation Highway Police Division is assisting in the investigating.
"The truck was way out of shape. It was so bad the drivers were willing to drive hundreds of miles out of the way not to pass any scales," Hutchison said.
Coleman, who signed for the load of milk, had a suspended CDL, Hutchison. The truck belongs to a company from Kansas City, Mo., possibly called B&P Transport, Hutchison said. The trailer tags, tied to the truck with bailing wire, were fictitious and registered to a CenturyTel vehicle from Memphis, he said.
The health department condemned the load and had it disposed of, Hutchison said.
Emergency crews got in touch with Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad to stop oncoming trains and to repair the damaged track.
Hurn was cited for failure to stop at a stop sign. No alcohol or drugs were involved in the wreck.
The roadway was wet at the time of the wreck due to recent rainfall, Hutchison said. The wreck is still under investigation and will be for several months, he said.