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Originally published: Sunday, 01/05/03

Trucker charged in deadly crash

Associated Press

CHEHALIS, Wash. – A Tacoma truck driver accused of killing four women in an August crash on Interstate 5 falsified his log books and had been driving more hours than legally allowed, authorities said.

Sergey B. Stakhovich, a Russian immigrant and U.S. citizen with seven children, appeared in Lewis County Superior Court on Friday. Bail was set at $50,000.

Stakhovich is accused of four counts of vehicular homicide in the Aug. 24 crash.

The 43-year-old was driving a United Road Service auto transporter truck that crashed through several vehicles as traffic slowed in front of him.

Stakhovich, who suffered only minor injuries, told investigators that before the wreck, he had set the truck's cruise control to 58 mph. At first he didn't notice traffic slowing and, when he did, he might have hit the accelerator instead of the brake, he said.

Stakhovich allegedly falsified his driving time logbook several times between Aug. 6 and Aug. 24, according to court documents. The documents also said Stakhovich had been on duty for 31 hours since his last eight-hour sleep period and had been driving straight for 16 hours.

State and federal regulations require truckers to take eight-hour sleep breaks and to drive no more than 16 hours in a 24-hour period.

State Patrol detectives arrested Stakhovich at his home Thursday morning. The arrest followed a four-month investigation by the Washington State Patrol's major accident investigation team.

Killed in the crash were Yvonne M. Wright, 74, of Winlock; Jeri L. Cozad, 52, of Kelso; and Valerie G. Stuber, 47, and Michelle M. Ross, 27, both of Longview.