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Judge Overturns Conviction Of Truck Driver In Fatal Crash

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PRINCETON, W.Va. (AP) — A judge has overturned the conviction of an Illinois truck driver in a crash that killed a North Carolina family in southern West Virginia.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports Mercer County Circuit Court Judge William Sadler dismissed the case against 41-year-old Bertram Copeland on Tuesday, citing a lack of evidence. Copeland was convicted of negligent homicide and reckless driving in the April 2017 crash and was sentenced in March to four years in jail.

Officials said the southbound tractor-trailer crossed the median and struck a vehicle along Interstate 77, killing David and Christine Gilley of Salisbury, North Carolina, and their two children.

Copeland blamed a mechanical failure.

The judge said the law requires intent to be proven and it wasn’t clear that Copeland knew of defects with the truck.

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UPDATE: March 15, 2019

PRINCETON, W.Va. (AP) – An Illinois truck driver has been sentenced to more than four years in jail in an interstate crash that killed a family of four from North Carolina in southern West Virginia.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports family members of those killed gave emotional pleas for justice before Magistrate Sandra Dorsey sentenced 41-year-old Bertram Copeland of Rockford, Illinois, Thursday after he was convicted last week on charges of negligent homicide and reckless driving.

Officials said the southbound tractor-trailer crossed the median and struck the Gilleys’ vehicle along Interstate 77 in April 2017. Killed were David and Christine Gilley of Salisbury, North Carolina, and their two children, Jack and Grace.

Copeland blamed a mechanical failure, but the judge said she did not see evidence of “an unforeseeable mechanical error” in the crash.

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UPDATE: January 21, 2018

PRINCETON, W.Va. (AP) — An Illinois truck driver faces charges in an interstate crash last year that killed a family of four from North Carolina in southern West Virginia.

West Virginia State Police Sgt. C.F. Kane tells the Bluefield Daily Telegraph that 41-year-old Bertram Copeland of Rockford, Illinois, was charged with four counts of negligent homicide and reckless driving.

Kane says Copeland was arraigned in Mercer County Magistrate Court last week and is free on bond.

Kane says a tractor-trailer driven by Copeland crashed into a vehicle along Interstate 77 last April. Killed were David and Christine Gilley of Salisbury, North Carolina, and their two children, Jack and Grace.

Mercer County Emergency Management Director Tim Farley says the southbound truck crossed the median, struck the Gilleys’ vehicle, rolled onto its side and caught fire. Copeland suffered several broken bones.



Yazmin Rodriguez

Yazmin Rodriguez is currently the morning and noon anchor for WOAY. She was born in Newark, New Jersey then later headed down to the Jersey shore where she received her bachelor's degree in television and radio from Monmouth University.


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