DACULA - A 41-year-old truck driver from Winder has been charged with four counts of vehicular homicide, officials said Wednesday.
Ernest R. Brown Jr. of 405 Breeze Way, a driver for Publix Supermarkets, has been charged with contributing to a three-vehicle accident on Ga. Highway 316 and Winder Highway that killed four Winder residents July 8.
According to Gwinnett County Police Department spokeswoman Cpl. Illana Spellman, Brown admitted to falling asleep behind the wheel of his tractor-trailer. Brown's truck struck a 1992 Honda Accord, killing 38-year-old Virginia Jimenez-Cabrera and her 12-year-old daughter Victoria Cabrera, Nicolas Jaen Garcia, 39, and his 20-year-old son Eric Jaen Jimenez. All four were pronounced dead at the scene.
Two other vehicles, a conversion travel bus and Lincoln Town Car, were also hit as a result of the crash. The driver of the bus, Steven Poole, 38, of Bethlehem, and the driver of the Lincoln, 62-year-old John W. Thomas of Bogart, were not injured and did not require medical attention. According to an accident report, Poole's wife and three children were occupants of the bus, but did not require medical attention. Brown was taken to Gwinnett Medical Center and released.
Spellman said tests revealed neither drugs nor alcohol were in Brown's system at the time of the accident.
"(Brown's) explanation of him falling asleep has been maintained throughout the investigation and there's nothing to the contrary - no drugs, no alcohol," Spellman said.
According to the report, Brown was traveling 55 miles per hour when he failed to stop, his vehicle colliding with the rear of the Honda and pushing the vehicle into the bus stopped at a red light in front.
Spellman said a warrant for Brown's arrest was filed Tuesday, charging Brown with four counts of second-degree vehicular homicide, a misdemeanor, one count of following too closely and one count of failure to obey a traffic control device.
According to Spellman, Brown has not yet been arrested and has been given approximately three days to turn himself in to authorities. Jail records confirmed the 41-year-old had not turned himself in as of press time Wednesday. Bail has been set for a total of $202,000, according the warrants.
Spellman said investigators do not expect to file any more charges.
Maria Brous, Publix's director of media and community relations in Lakeland, Fla., said she could not discuss Brown's case specifically but maintains all the stores' drivers and employees have safety training.
"We continuously have training for our drivers and employees," Brous said. "We also believe safety is the cornerstone of our company and is very important for both our associates and customers."
Brous said Brown is still listed as a Publix employee.