News roundup, June 1: Trucker unintentionally drove into crowd of protesters before arrest, officials say

Trucking news and briefs for Monday, June 1, 2020: 

Bogdan Vechirko (Hennepin County Sheriff)Bogdan Vechirko (Hennepin County Sheriff)

Trucker arrested after driving into crowd of protesters in Minnesota
An independent contractor for Kenan Advantage Group was arrested Sunday night after driving into a crowd of protesters along I-35W in Minneapolis.

Police identified the trucker as 35-year-old Bogdan Vechirko, who drove into the crowd and was then pulled out of his truck and injured by protesters. He was treated at a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, then arrested on probable cause of assault. He is being held at the Hennepin County Jail.

Minnesota DPS officials said there were no reports of protesters injured in the incident. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Monday in a press conference that authorities had closed the highway, but it was closed in sections and Vechirko had been on I-35W before that section of the interstate was closed. He added that Vechirko said a group of protesters stepped in to protect him until police arrived at the scene. It’s unclear if Vechirko will still face charges.

Kenan Advantage Group confirmed in a statement that Vechirko was an independent contractor for the company and that they are cooperating with the investigation.

Our hearts go out to all those who are grieving the events of this past week,” said Patricia Harcourt, vice president of corporate communications for KAG. “We have been informed of an incident involving one of our independent contractors in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during recent protests. Our first and foremost concern is for the safety and security of the public, our employees and our customers. We will be cooperating fully with the investigating authorities in the days ahead. It would be inappropriate to comment at this time until we have additional facts as the investigation is in its early stages. We will comment further once we have more information.”

According to a tweet from the Minnesota DOT, I-35 was originally set to close at 8 p.m. Sunday night, but it was announced at 4:38 p.m. that the closure had been moved up to 5 p.m. The incident with Vechirko occurred around 5:40 p.m., after the interstate had been closed.

Video footage from Minneapolis-based Fox 9 shows the crowd disperse before the truck enters the area, followed by the truck being surrounded and the driver being pulled from the cab.

Free lunch Wednesday in Cartersville, Georgia
Atlanta-based OTR Capital and Marquee Insurance Group will combine efforts on June 3 to provide free lunches for truckers at I-75 Exit 296 (southbound) in Cartersville, Georgia, with the support of Chick-fil-A and the Georgia Department of Public Safety’s Motor Carrier Compliance Division. The effort is intended to thank truck drivers for their heroic efforts in supporting our country during the COVID-19 crisis. Free Chick-Fil-A lunches will be delivered to 300 drivers, starting at 11 am.

OTR and MIG CEO Fritz Owens says “America’s truck drivers have always been and continue to be the backbone of America and we are excited to show our gratitude. We want them to know that we are here for them and we appreciate their bravery. We are more than just factoring and insurance companies; we are committed to helping truckers get through this.”

Nearly 3,000 Western Star trucks recalled for potential wiring issue
Daimler Trucks North America is recalling approximately 2,987 Western Star trucks due to potentially faulty wiring, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

Affected trucks include model year 2019-2021 Western Star 4700 and 5700 models. The recall says that a particular wire in the ground harness may be undersized, possibly resulting in a melted connector in the ground circuit harness. If the connector becomes damaged, under certain circumstances, the engine may stall without the ability to restart.

Daimler estimates about 12% of trucks included in the recall have the defect.

DTNA will notify owners, and dealers will replace the ground harness for free. Owners can contact DTNA customer service at 1-800-547-0712 with recall number FL-852. NHTSA’s recall number is 20V-281. 

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