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Crackdown sidelines trucking company in Connecticut

A surprise visit to a Connecticut trucking company last week netted state inspectors more than a dozen sidelined trucks.

As part of Gov. M. Jodi Rell's orders to step up truck enforcement, the state's Department of Motor Vehicles paid a visit to Superior Waste Disposal in Danbury, CT, on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

By the time the inspectors left, the company - which was on the state's Top 25 list of interstate motor carriers with poor safety ratings - had 13 of its 18 vehicles shut down because of safety violations, the Danbury News-Times reported.

DMV spokesman Bill Seymour told the News-Times that although most inspections are random, the latest round have been aimed at repeat violators.

"Our main effort is to make trucks safe and make highways safe and not hold up the business and commerce trucking companies are involved with," he said.

David Dunleavy, a spokesperson for the company told the News-Times that most of the trucks' violations were corrected and the vehicles were back on the road by Thursday, Oct. 6.

"We support fully what the governor is doing and we cooperated with the state DMV," Dunleavy said.

On July 29, a 12-wheeled dump truck owned by American Crushing and Recycling careened down Route 44 near Avon, CT, slamming into cars waiting at the intersection with Route 10. Four were killed, including the truck's driver, Abdulraheem Naafi, also known as Terrance R. Stokes.

The accident sparked public interest and outrage, causing officials to take a hard look at safety violators within the state. On Aug. 17, Rell asked for a top-25 list of companies with poor safety records. Those companies underwent additional inspections, putting 61 trucks out of service.

However, the list faced scrutiny for not including companies based in Connecticut and operating out-of-state. On Aug. 23, the state's Transportation Commissioner released a second list of the top 25 interstate companies with poor safety records on order of the governor.

Department of Transportation records show that inspectors had found five brake violations on the truck involved in the crash during inspections in the past. All of the problems were corrected, according to Newsday.

American Crushing and Recycling, the company that owned the truck, also had 448 mechanical violations between 1994 and 2001 while operating as Wilcox Trucking. The company changed names after the state Department of Motor Vehicles suspended the registrations of 16 of its trucks because they failed to comply with a number of repair orders, a DMV spokesperson told Newsday.

Despite a number of violations, the company was not in either of the lists for the top 25 violators in the state.

Naafi's own history is also being questioned in the investigation. The accident occurred just two days after he began working for American Crushing and Recycling - the day after he was fired from another trucking company partially because he could not operate the truck's transmission, Newsday reported.

Under a third, unreleased name, Naafi had a criminal record that included a robbery conviction.
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