Trucker on Facebook at time of deadly Arizona crash, records show

2013-10-31T10:37:00Z 2013-10-31T14:27:52Z Trucker on Facebook at time of deadly Arizona crash, records showBecky Pallack Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 31, 2013 10:37 am  • 

PHOENIX — The driver of an empty fuel tanker was using his cell phone to look at photos of women on Facebook when he crashed into three police cars and two fire department trucks on Interstate 8 in May, killing an Arizona Department of Public Safety officer, records obtained by the Star show.

Officer Tim Huffman was killed in the May 6 wreck on eastbound Interstate 8 in Yuma County. The truck driver, Jorge Espinoza, is charged with second-degree murder and other crimes.

The investigation report was made public today after an Arizona Daily Star public records request.

Espinoza was driving 65 mph with the cruise control on when the crash happened. He initially told investigators he didn't see the police cars because he was looking in his mirror at a passing truck. He also said he never uses his phone while driving because it is against company policy, the police reports show.

However, information taken from the phone shows Espinoza was using the internet at the time of the crash, according to the reports.

He was in Facebook looking at "photographs of several women in provocative positions, wearing little clothing," "photographs of a woman in a low cut dress," and photos of a man "smoking something," according to the reports obtained this morning.

Espinoza had also used his phone to look at Facebook, YouTube, female escort web pages, porn sites and social networks on other occasions when he was logged in as driving, investigators said.

A camera on the dashboard of his truck shows his Samsung Galaxy 3 phone fly out of his hand in the crash, although he had apparently tried to cover the camera with his wallet, police say.

Other officers and medics who were with Huffman responding to an earlier crash with injuries witnessed the crash and tried to save Huffman, who had been sitting in his car. They pulled the windshield and dash off his car to try to help him, and they got a Jaws of Life tool out of one of the crashed fire trucks, but Huffman died in the car, reports show.

Investigators concluded: "Espinoza would have been able to perceive the danger in the roadway and not cause the death of Officer Tim Huffman, endangered the lives of 11 other emergency responders and destroyed six vehicles, including a new semi-tractor and trailer owned by his employer, if he had not chosen to distract himself while accessing Facebook from his cellular telephone while operating his assigned commercial vehicle."

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