Truck in fatal crash appears to have had no violations
By: JO MORELAND - Staff Writer
Last modified Wednesday, February 16, 2005 11:48 PM PST
CARLSBAD ---- A big rig from Mexico that stalled on Interstate 5 this week and was rear-ended by a van in a fatal crash that killed the van's three occupants, does not appear to have a history of safety violations, California Highway Patrol authorities said Wednesday.
A Carlsbad couple, Robert and Marie Jennings, both 67, and their 19-year-old grandson, MiraCosta College student David Michael Jennings II, died in the pre-dawn crash Tuesday in the freeway's southbound lanes.
The truck lost its drive train and stalled in the No. 4 lane about 10 minutes before the 5:15 a.m. accident south of Carmel Valley Road, Officer Mark Gregg, Highway Patrol spokesman, said Wednesday.
"We had a couple of people say, 'Yes, I saw it. I managed to avoid it,' " Gregg said.
He said the truck's hazard lights were flashing and the driver didn't try to leave the cab in the dark to take additional safety precautions in the full-speed traffic.
Meanwhile, friends and family of the victims were making final arrangements and sharing memories Wednesday at the home of Robert and Marie Jennings, who had opened their Shale Court house to their grandson while he attended MiraCosta.
David Jennings II was in his second year at the college, planning to transfer to UC San Diego this fall to continue his pre-med studies, said his father, David Jennings, of Beavercreek, Ohio.
"We will miss the goodness in him ... that he used to touch everything around him," Jennings said in a phone interview from the Jennings' Carlsbad home Wednesday afternoon.
The father said he doesn't hold the truck driver "responsible for any of this."
"It was an accident," Jennings said. "I hold no animosity towards the trucking company, if everything was in order, as the investigator said."
Wayne Hartwig, motor carrier unit manager for the Highway Patrol's Border Division in San Diego, said the truck is owned by Transportes De Baja California in Tijuana.
The company has at least eight big rig tractors and 35 trailers, Hartwig said.
Six violations were noted on the company's carrier citation history within the past 10 months at the Border Patrol's Otay Mesa inspection area, said the unit manager.
Hartwig said preliminary investigation indicated four of those citations did not involve the stalled truck. He said he hadn't been able to trace the other two violations to specific Transportes De Baja trucks.
At the Jennings' home, plans were made to hold a memorial service some time Friday evening for David Jennings II at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Carlsbad.
In his biography on the MiraCosta Web site, David Jennings II talked about his plans and how he liked to spend time on the computer, hang out with his friends, bodyboard and surf.
The MiraCosta student ambassador encouraged high school students to stay in school and attend college, worked with special-needs students, and was a part-time employee at an Encinitas store, said Jan Moberly, MiraCosta coordinator of school relations and outreach.
"He was a joy," Moberly said. "He just couldn't do enough."
Counselors were helping students cope Wednesday with the death of their friend, who spearheaded the "Run for the Fund" 5K scholarship fund-raiser last October.
David Jennings, who ran the 5K with his only son, said he and his wife, Kristi, who have four daughters, will establish a MiraCosta memorial scholarship for transfer students.
An 11 a.m. service will be held Saturday for Robert and Marie Jennings at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Carlsbad, said their daughter, Sheryl McGurk of Alexandria, Va.
She said her parents, married 45 years, were on their way to the Bahamas to see their third child, Bob Jennings, perform in a play when they died.
"My father was in the first graduating class of the Air Force Academy in 1959," McGurk said. "His wife adored, loved and supported him for his career of 27 1/2 years. He retired as a colonel."
Her parents continued to be busy over the years, vacationing in Carlsbad before moving there in 2002, she said.
On Monday morning, Marie Jennings attended a rally in Carlsbad to try to prevent the city from drastically lowering Lake Calavera for a dam repair project, citing the lake as one of the "scenic things we still have left."
"We got to spend a lot of wonderful times together this past year," McGurk said about the entire family. "The only comfort we're finding is we know our parents and David went to heaven together."
Contact staff writer Jo Moreland at (760) 740-3524 or firstname.lastname@example.org.