Prosecutor: Owner knew truck in deadly Recology crash was faulty
A Yuba City commercial truck owner has been accused of operating a dangerous vehicle that caused the death of a Recology Inc. driver in a crash last year, the Yuba County District Attorney's Office said Monday.
Gary Mathis, 43, was killed June 28, 2011, on Highway 20 south of East 22nd Street in Marysville when his truck collided with a semi-truck hauling two empty trailers traveling in the opposite direction.
Prosecutors say the semi-truck was owned, at least in part, by Jasbir Singh Sangha of JS Trucking in Yuba City.
District Attorney Pat McGrath said investigators determined that problems with the truck's brakes and tires caused the trailers to fishtail, which contributed to "a further loss of control" of the vehicle.
McGrath said Sangha knew the tractor-trailer was deficient and encouraged "its continued operation despite the danger it could pose to other motorists."
"The deficiencies would be readily apparent during any regular maintenance or pretrip inspection and easily correctable," McGrath said.
Sangha, 31, and the truck driver, Ernest Allan Coublucq, were charged Monday with single counts of vehicular manslaughter, a misdemeanor and providing false documents to investigators, a felony, prosecutors said.
If convicted, both men face up to four years behind bars.
Sangha has denied owning the truck, officials said, but investigators do not believe him.
McGrath said Sangha "attemp ed to shield himself from responsibility" by doctoring phony lease and liability waivers after the collision. The suspected bogus document was dated before the collision and supposedly signed by the 74-year-old truck driver, Coublucq, McGrath said.
"Further investigation determined the document was fraudulent," McGrath said.
Though he was not the driver of the truck, Sangha is also charged with vehicular manslaughter "based on the theory of derivative criminal liability," McGrath said.
Repeated efforts to contact Sangha on Monday were not successful.
JS Trucking has a business address listed at a residential apartment in the 1500 block of Bridge Street in Yuba City. However, the man who came to door at the address Monday denied knowing both Sangha and Coublucq. The man, who did not give his name, said he was a co-owner of JS Trucking, but denied his company had ever been involved in any crash.
CONTACT Rob Parsons at email@example.com or 749-4785. Find him on Facebook at /ADcrimebeat or on Twitter at @ADcrimebeat.