WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has declared Wenceslao Cruz Marquez and his son, Hugo Cruz, to each be an imminent hazard to public safety, individually and as a passenger motor carrier, and has ordered both not to operate any commercial motor vehicle in interstate or intrastate commerce.
Hugo Cruz was served the federal order on July 6, 2016 and Wensceslao Cruz Marquez was served on July 7, 2016. Neither Marquez nor Cruz possess commercial driver’s licenses, despite the fact that they operate a passenger motor carrier.
On June 18, 2016, Cruz was driving a pick-up truck transporting luggage while Marquez followed behind in a 15 passenger van which was carrying 16 passengers. In Virginia, while engaged in interstate commerce from North Carolina to New Jersey, Marquez fell asleep, causing the van to roll over as many as six times. The back passenger seat belts were disabled and six passengers were ejected from the van and killed at the scene, including a four-to-five year old child who was unrestrained by either a seat belt or car seat. Ten other passengers were injured, with at least three other serious injuries. The vehicle was uninsured at the time of the accident.
Among the federal safety regulations violations committed, Cruz and Marquez individually were both operating motor vehicles without being properly licensed or qualified to do so, and failed to comply with hours of service requirements and regulations prohibiting the fatigued operation of commercial motor vehicles.
FMCSA’s imminent hazard out-of-service order to Marquez and Cruz states that their “… blatant disregard of (federal safety regulations) resulted in a multi-fatality accident on June 18, 2016 while you were transporting 16 passengers in interstate commerce from North Carolina to New Jersey.” Marquez and Cruz also may be subject to a civil penalty enforcement proceeding brought by FMCSA for their violations of the agency’s safety regulations.
Failure to comply with the provisions of a federal imminent hazard out-of-service order may result in action by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for equitable relief, as well as and civil penalties. Civil penalties of up to $25,000 may be assessed any violation of the order. Knowing and/or willful violation of the order may also result in criminal charges.
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