12 On Your Side: Truck driver charged after tree limb accident

MECHANICSVILLE, VA (WWBT) - A 12 On Your Side Investigation results in charges in an accident that nearly impaled a Mechanicsville man on Interstate 295.

A large tree limb flew off the back of a truck. It hit the front of David Dalton's car, smashed his windshield, and lodged behind the steering wheel.

Dalton says a state trooper told him he had to pay for his own car repairs, because they didn't have a witness to identify the truck. 12 On Your Side discovered that wasn't true.

I got State Police to tell me why they didn't know a witness existed until my investigation was broadcast last Thursday. I also had several phone conversations and e-mail exchanges, before then, with the truck driver. Tonight, we're identifying him.

A couple inches either way and the spear-like tree limb could have pierced David Dalton's body like it did his car. The truck driver called #77 right after the accident:

Driver: "I was stopped by a motorist about the miles back. A limb came off my truck, hit somebody in the windshield. I don't know what to do about it. If you have a complaint, I have insurance and everything."

Dispatcher: "So, you saw it break the windshield of a person behind you?"

Driver: "Yeah. That's what somebody pulled me over on the side of the road and said."

Matt McQuillan is the witness who flagged down the truck driver August 13.

"I was mouthing, 'You have stuff coming out of your truck,'" said McQuillan.

McQuillan told State Police what he saw. I got the 911 recording through a Freedom of Information request.

"I was able to stop the truck," said McQuillan. "The limb came through the car. I've got the guy's license plate number if you're interested in it."

But State Police dropped the ball. Their public information director says it was human error, an oversight during a busy time. Dispatch received 2,100 calls from four cities.

Corinne Geller said dispatch never relayed the witness information to the trooper, so when the trooper talked to the truck driver and Dalton's wife, he had no knowledge of a witness.

So no charge... until now.

Tony Jenkins, owner of EZ Flow Land and Tree Service, was charged with failure to secure his load.

"I don't see the person," said Jenkins in the 911 call. "Somebody just pulled me over and said it. Look like, if a limb hit a guy, looked like to me, he would have stopped me."

Still, he doesn't believe it was his truck and says others were on the road.

"The guy that I flagged, that truck was spewing stuff," said McQuillan.

The accident victim tells me an agent from Jenkins' insurance company is coming out to look at the car. We will stay on it, to find out whether the car, gets repaired.

Meantime, I checked with the Better Business Bureau. It gives EZ Flow Land and Tree Service an 'F' rating. Jenkins goes to court in October for the ticket.

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