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HP: Semi Driver Shouldn't Have Been Driving

July 8, 2010, 4:51 PM by Don Jorgensen

HP: Semi Driver Shouldn't Have Been Driving
NORTH OF BRIDGEWATER, SD - Troopers say he shouldn't have been driving in the first place. A Utah trucker is in a South Dakota jail cell, accused of falling asleep at the wheel and causing a major accident on Interstate 90.

The crash stopped traffic near the Bridgewater exit for several hours and sent two people to the hospital.

The accident scene looks worse than it was. Judging by the mess, investigators say it's lucky someone wasn't killed. 

"There was an Airstream RV with a Ford Explorer traveling eastbound on I-90 when a semi came up behind that vehicle and rear ended the vehicle being towed by the RV," Captain Kevin Joffer of the South Dakota Highway Patrol said.

The semi hit the Airstream so hard, the driver lost control, the RV rolled into the median while the semi veered into the ditch tipping on its side.

Investigators say the semi driver, Ronald Jessop of Utah, wasn't paying attention and was operating the big rig illegally. 

"The driver of the semi has a suspended commercial driver's license.  We have also received information from the troopers investigating the accident that it appears the driver may have fallen asleep," Joffer said.

Cargo and personal belongings were strewn everywhere. Because of the all the debris, the South Dakota Highway Patrol shut down the Interstate for several hours until the wreckage was cleaned up. 

"We weren't safely able to move traffic through that area because of the crash because it was quite a mess," Joffer said.
 
The driver of RV, 73-year-old Betty Sullivan of Wichita, Kansas, has minor injuries. Passenger 74-year-old Leonard Sullivan suffered serious, but non-life threatening injuries.

Jessop, the driver of the semi, has been cited for driving without a license and careless driving. He also has an outstanding warrant on a failure to appear in court on a separate charge.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
A misspelling was corrected in this story.

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