Ineffective brakes are being blamed for a dump truck driver’s inability to stop the vehicle as it descended into the Merriman Valley last week.
Christopher Burgess, 41, of Ravenna Township, died in the crash July 5.
Authorities say he managed to avoid harming other motorists or pedestrians as his truck went down Portage Trail Extension and into the Valley Centre Plaza at about 50 mph before crashing into the Cuyahoga River.
An inspection by the State Highway Patrol Motor Carrier Enforcement Unit in Massillon found the truck had “ineffective brakes. With these brakes, Christopher Burgess was unable to bring the vehicle to a stop,” police said.
Burgess’ parents, Roger and Claire Burgess of Cuyahoga Falls, declined to comment about the results released Wednesday.
Christopher Burgess was a truck driver for 15 years, but only recently took a job driving the dump truck, a 2004 Sterling tri-axle. It was carrying about 15 tons of sand for Huber Trucking in Ravenna.
Company officials have not commented about the crash.
Burgess died of neck trauma after his truck hit a large tree leading into the river off Akron-Peninsula Road. He was still in his seat belt when his body was removed from the vehicle.
Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards said Wednesday the investigation is ongoing. He said the truck had eight brakes to cover four axles. Two brakes were inoperable, he said. Three others were below state standards. Three were at or above state level.
“When you’re hauling 14 to 16 tons and coming down an incline, there’s no way to stop, there’s not enough brake to stop,” he said. “With those brakes, there’s no way he’d be able to bring that vehicle to a stop.”
Witnesses and police have hailed Burgess as a hero for managing to drive the vehicle without harming anyone or damaging any building.
A memorial service for Burgess is planned for 11 a.m. July 28 at First Congregational Church of Hudson, 47 Aurora St.
Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.