Truck Driver Pleads Guilty in Crash That Killed 13 in California

September 1, 2019 Updated: September 2, 2019

A driver who fell asleep behind the wheel of his big rig truck pleaded guilty to his involvement in a 2016 crash that left 13 people dead in Southern California.

Bruce Guilford of Covington, Georgia, was charged with 42 counts of reckless driving and vehicular manslaughter, ABC News reported. He pleaded guilty to all the counts on Aug. 30.

Officials said that he fell asleep behind the wheel while stopped at a California Highway Patrol traffic break, according to the Desert Sun. Officers then released traffic, while he was still asleep behind the wheel. A bus ran into his parked truck.

According to the news outlet, Teodulo Elias Vides, owner of the USA Holiday bus company, died in the crash. A dozen other passengers riding near the front of the bus also died.

The Sun reported that he was sentenced to four years in prison after entering his guilty plea.

Officials said Guilford had fallen asleep after he illegally drove for too many hours. Investigators had determined that in the four days before the crash, Guilford had driven well over the permitted maximum number of hours, he tried to hide the violations by falsifying his daily log and had, at best, only seven possible hours of sleep in the 24 hours before the crash, according to The Associated Press.

Prosecutors had asked the judge in a sentencing memorandum to give him the maximum penalty of 32 years and eight months, Hall said.

Facts About Crime in the United States

Violent crime in the United States has fallen sharply over the past 25 years, according to both the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).
The rate of violent crimes fell by 49 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the FBI’s UCR, which only reflects crimes reported to the police.

The violent crime rate dropped by 74 percent between 1993 and 2017, according to the BJS’s NCVS, which takes into account both crimes that have been reported to the police and those that have not.

The FBI recently released preliminary data for 2018. According to the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report, January to June 2018, violent crime rates in the United States dropped by 4.3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2017.

While the overall rate of violent crime has seen a steady downward drop since its peak in the 1990s, there have been several upticks that bucked the trend. Between 2014 and 2016, the murder rate increased by more than 20 percent, to 5.4 per 100,000 residents, from 4.4, according to an Epoch Times analysis of FBI data. The last two-year period that the rate soared so quickly was between 1966 and 1968.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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