Trucker Admits Trailer Not “Hooked Up Tight” Before Deadly Accident, Gets Probation
Milwaukee, Wisconsin – After more than 17 months, a truck driver was sentenced on Monday for his role in an accident that took the life of an 84-year-old man.
On Monday, Terry Degree, 62, pleaded no contest to two felony charges: homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon, and second degree recklessly endangering safety.
The charges stemmed from a December 6, 2017 accident in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, at approximately 9:30 a.m.
According to authorities, Degree had just dropped off a trailer and hooked up another.
He then departed and was operating southbound along Boundary Road, just south of County Line Road, when the trailer became disconnected while going across railroad tracks.
The complaint said “after going across railroad tracks, the trailer became disconnected from his tractor and struck an oncoming vehicle.”
That “oncoming vehicle” was an SUV, and inside was 84-year-old Robert Langnes of Mequon, Wisconsin, who was pronounced dead on the scene.
A 74-year-old woman was also injured and flown to a hospital with serious injuries.
Authorities said Degree pulled over shortly after the crash and was cooperative.
According to the complaint, Degree told police “he did not realize that another vehicle had been struck by the trailer until a witness came up behind him and told him that 911 had been called.”
Further, Degree told investigators “he believes that the locking mechanism that locks the kingpin into the coupler may not have been all the way across, allowing the trailer to slip out.”
The complaint also alleges Degree admitted to an officer, “I didn’t have it hooked up tight.”
Degree received three years probation on each conviction, along with 75 hours of community service.
Additionally, he was sentenced to 90 days conditional jail time with Huber (work) release, but that was stayed to be used at the probation agent’s discretion.