Family of homeless man killed by truck he was sleeping under suing truck driver & company

The family of a homeless man who fell asleep under a semi-truck and was consequently run over and killed is suing the driver and trucking company for $100,000, The Winchester Star reported.

The 2016 Freightliner was reportedly parked behind a Boost Mobile phone store in Winchester, Virginia on Jan. 1, 2020 when Michael Martin, 56, sought shelter and fell asleep under it. He was run over and killed around 9:20 p.m.

An attorney for Martin’s family said in the lawsuit that truck driver Quintanilla Romero was required to look under his vehicle before driving as part of a pre-trip inspection and that he didn’t have permission to park his truck there in the first place.  The suit also lists P&S Transportation and Purdy Brothers Trucking, the companies Romero was working for, as defendants.

Romero reportedly told police he inspected the outside of the 20-foot cab and 53-foot tractor-trailer as part of his pre-trip inspection and filed his report.

“However, I did not look underneath the trailer. I did not check the driver’s side of the semi-truck and trailer because it was parked too close to the other vehicles,” he told detectives, according to a police report. “The semi-truck and trailer were parked about 1 to 1½ feet apart which was very narrow to try and walk between to check. The cab of the semi-truck was just past the rear of the other vehicles so I could easily get in and out of the semi-truck.”

Romero said he intended to drive a short distance and complete the inspection, but he hit Martin with the rear wheels of the truck and dragged him about 15 feet, according to The Winchester Star.

Police said Martin smelled of alcohol and there were multiple beer cans around his body. He was taken to a nearby hospital before being pronounced dead. The cause of death was ruled an accident in 2020.

Story courtesy of The Winchester Star.