Special to the Grove Sun
MIAMI, OK — A Missouri truck driver pleaded not guilty this morning to charges he was responsible for the deaths of 10 people in one of the state's deadliest wrecks.
Donald Leroy Creed is seen today in this photo by Gary Crow, courtesy Tulsa World.
Seated with family members, Donald Leroy Creed rarely looked up as he nervously clutched his white cowboy hat while waiting for Special Judge Bill Culver to call his name.
Creed, 76, of Willard, Mo., is charged in Ottawa County District Court in Miami with 10 misdemeanor counts of negligent homicide in connection with the June 26 crash. He was the driver of an Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc. tractor-trailer that rammed into six vehicles that had stopped near the Miami exit on the Will Rogers Turnpike because of an earlier wreck.
During the 10-minute hearing, Creed waived his right to a speedy trial. Culver ordered him to return to court April 6 for a misdemeanor trial docket.
Creed as well as his family declined to comment.
"This was a tragic accident, extremely tragic," Paul Brunton, Creed's attorney, said after the hearing.
Brunton declined further comment, citing that he had just recently become involved in the case.
"I just got handed a huge folder of discovery documents," Brunton said, holding his hands six inches apart.
Brunton said Creed is still employed with the Kansas City, Kan.- based business but didn't know if he is still driving a truck.
According to an Oklahoma Highway Patrol report released in August, no defects were found in the tractor-trailer. The cruise-control indicated Creed was traveling 71 mph at the time of the crash. The speed limit is 75 mph on the turnpike.
Troopers noted no pre-impact or post-impact skids on the highway. Witnesses reported Creed's rig changed lanes without signaling, was traveling at a high rate of speed and they never saw brake lights, according to an arrest warrant.
Troopers said Creed had been working since 3 a.m. that day. The crash occurred about 1 p.m.
Three cars with multiple people injured were pinned beneath the tractor-trailer. After the accident Creed told the patrol he didn't know what happened and thought the cars drove under him, records show.
It isn't known why Creed failed to stop or if a medical problem or inattention caused the crash. Eight minutes before the crash, Creed concluded a 22-minute cell phone call, the warrant states.
Creed faces up to 10 years in jail. He is free on $20,000 bail.