Trucking company involved in accident that hurt deputies has shelled out millions for deaths, injuries

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Houston County (WTVY)- The driver of a truck that wrecked, injuring two Houston County deputies, works for a company that recently shelled out millions of dollars for causing deaths and injuries.

Just weeks ago, Total Transportation of Mississippi LLC was ordered to pay $15 million to a survivor of a Georgia accident that killed five nursing students.

In the local crash that occurred early Friday, the driver lost control of his 18-wheeler. Sheriff Donald Valenza said the truck then struck two sheriff’s office cruisers.

Investigators say one officer was struck by flying debris while standing outside his vehicle while the other was inside his SUV when it was rammed. Both were treated and released from Flowers Hospital.

The accident occurred about 1:50 a.m. along U.S. 431, three miles north of Ross Clark Circle while the deputies were assisting a utility crew. Multiple people at the scene claim the driver admitted he “dozed off,” but an official accident report from Alabama State Troopers was not immediately available.

In the Georgia case, another Total Transportation truck caused a pileup along Interstate 16, killing five Georgia Southern students headed to a Savannah hospital for their final day of clinical rotations.

Megan Richards, one of two survivors, took her case to trial in January alleging she suffered traumatic brain injury. A Bryan County jury deliberated about four hours January 20 before returning the verdict.

The trucking company earlier settled with families of the five-people killed and the other survivor. Terms were not disclosed.

The driver, John Wayne Johnson, admitted fault and was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of first-degree vehicular homicide. Witnesses said he was traveling about 70 miles per hour and never slowed down before causing the wreck.

Despite the deadly accident, Total Transportation has a satisfactory safety rating from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The government agency’s website shows the company, a subsidiary of U.S. Xpress Enterprises, operates 755 trucks with over 900 drivers who logged more than 90 million miles in 2015.