MIAMI – An Oct. 16, 2015, fatal semi truck accident has resulted in a negligent homicide charge filed against Roger Pate, 59, of Goldsboro, North Carolina. The charge is considered a criminal misdemeanor.
The charge was filed in Ottawa County District Court on Dec. 21, and a bench warrant was filed the same day for Pate's arrest.
Ottawa District Attorney Kenny Wright wrote in the information filing that Pate actions were in reckless disregard of others and inflicted mortal wounds causing the death of David Callahan 58, of Miami.
Pate has been charged in connection with a fatality collision that occurred while he was driving a semi tractor trailer and attempted to make a turnaround on U.S. Highway 69 and County Road East 160 Road approximately five miles south and two miles west of Miami in Ottawa County.
According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol's incident report, Pate was traveling northbound on Hwy. 69 in a 2014 Freightliner truck and realized he was going the wrong direction and attempted to back southbound on the highway onto East 160 Road.
A second vehicle, 1992 Oldsmobile driven by Callahan traveling southbound on Hwy. 69 struck Pate's truck front to front in the southbound lane of traffic, OHP reported.
Callahan was pronounced dead at the scene by the Oklahoma Medical Examiner investigator. Callahan was pinned for a total of 18 minutes and was extricated by the Miami Fire Department.
OHP's report says the condition of the driver was apparently normal and the cause of the collision was listed as “improper backing in the roadway.”
Both drivers were using seatbelts according to the report, and the weather conditions at the time of the collision were listed as clear and the roadway dry.
The affidavit for arrest filed on Dec. 21 written by Trooper Laue states Pate said he could see the car coming towards him from the north approximately one-quarter of a mile as he was backing. His semi was in the southbound lane of traffic, and the trailer portion of the semi was almost onto County Road East 160.
“He said he tried to flash his lights and honk his horn at the car to possibly get the driver’s attention to slow down or stop,” Laue wrote in his report. “Then Pate said the impact happened and that the car showed no sign of slowing down.”
No sign of tire marks or any sign of Callahan trying to slow down before the impact were discovered at the scene.
Pate was taken by another OHP Trooper, Jack Rhinehart, to Miami Integris Hospital for a blood draw.
Negligent homicide is not defined under the state’s criminal code, but rather the Oklahoma motor vehicle code. State law says that if a reckless driver causes an accident, and a person dies of injuries sustained in the accident within one year of its occurrence, the person whose recklessness caused the accident may be charged with negligent homicide.
Negligent homicide is a misdemeanor punishable by a year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or up to $2,000 if the driver has any traffic convictions within three years prior to the accident, mandatory defensive driver course, and the revocation of the driver’s license.
Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at email@example.com. or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1