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Truck driver charged in I-88 fatal has traffic, drug convictions

Wednesday, January 29, 2014
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The west suburban truck driver charged in an I-88 inferno that killed a tollway employee and critically injured a state trooper has several previous moving violations on his record and was convicted in 2001 for delivering a kilo of cocaine.

Because the drug felony did not occur in a commercial vehicle, state officials have told the ABC7 I-Team that the conviction did not prohibit Renato V. Velasquez, 46, from obtaining an Illinois Commercial Drivers License (CDL) in 2007.

"The only Federal Requirement for criminal background checks is for CDL drivers who are wanting to haul hazardous materials" says Illinois Secretary of State spokesperson Elizabeth Kaufman. "That just happened in the Patriot Act, under (President) Bush. Prior to that no requirement from the States. Employers generally run that check prior to hiring."

Since Velasquez served prison time for cocaine delivery and later received a CDL, the Hanover Park truck driver has had a few additional problems according to state driving records obtained by the I-Team. His record includes previous truck driving violations - although none as serious as the four felony charges he now faces following this week's fatal, high-speed crash on the Reagan Tollway.

In March of 2010, he was convicted of highway speeding while driving a truck in Michigan; in June of 2010, Velasquez was convicted of improperly backing up his truck on a one-way street; and in March of 2012, his driving abstract reveals that he was involved in an accident resulting in property damage. He was driving a car in that accident, but the circumstances of the or extent of the damage were not immediately apparent from state records.

On Tuesday, the owner of the trucking company for which Velasquez was working as an outside contractor told the ABC7 I-Team that her drivers' logs are "all good." It isn't known whether DND International was aware of Velasquez' speeding, accident history and drug conviction when he was hired.

"You can't be in the truck with the drivers, so as much as we can do, we control them," DND owner Natasha Dimitrievski told the I-Team outside her Naperville headquarters shortly after federal and state inspectors had departed. "I'm not there, in there, so I don't know what they do. Only thing I know, my drivers logs that I receive. It's all good."

DND also has a previous fatal accident on the books. Law enforcement and truck safety records reveal a DND truck in a fatal accident on I-55 in Sangamon County in August of 2012. The driver of the other truck died, but DND's owner says that one wasn't her driver's fault.

Authorities say Velasquez was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol Monday when his tractor-trailer plowed into a stopped squad car, causing a chain-reaction collision.

The DuPage County state's attorney says Velasquez had been on duty 38 hours with 3.5 hours of sleep.

"That's what is alleged. I don't know if that is fact or not," said Steven Goldman, truck driver's attorney.

Velasquez' lawyer says it is just an allegation that the trucker didn't get the required ten hours of sleep after 14 hours on the road.

Velasquez bonded out of DuPage County Jail Wednesday. He had been held since being treated for minor injuries after the fatal accident authorities say he caused.

(Copyright ©2014 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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