By Conrad Dudderar
A semi-truck driver has been charged with negligent homicide and faces a civil lawsuit for allegedly causing the death of a Yukon motorcyclist in a traffic collision on State Highway 66 at Banner Road.
Oklahoma City’s Donald Garrett Biffle, 26, was formally charged Dec. 17 in Canadian County District Court. The misdemeanor crime is punishable by a $100-$1,000 fine and/or up to one year in prison.
Prosecutors allege Biffle on Nov. 24 was driving a 1996 Peterbilt semi-truck and trailer on Banner Road crossing Route 66 when he failed to yield to a 2019 Kawasaki motorcycle driven by Yukon’s Ray Lee Davis.
Defendant Biffle was acting “in reckless disregard of others, which caused the motorcycle to strike the semi-truck resulting in a catastrophic collision that caused Davis’ death,” according to court documents.
Davis, 73, was a U.S. Navy veteran and the owner of Davis Carpet in Yukon.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol investigated the Nov. 24th crash, determining that Biffle was driving northbound on Banner Road when he failed to stop at a stop sign at Highway 66.
Davis, who did not have a stop sign, crashed into the driver’s side of the semi-truck. He was wearing a helmet.
Davis was pronounced dead at the scene due to blunt force trauma, according to a state trooper’s report.
The Highway 66/Banner Road intersection, one mile east of the OKC West Livestock Market, sees considerable large truck traffic. There have been 79 traffic collisions at SH-66 and Banner Road since 1998, according to a study provided by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. This includes 38 injury crashes and three fatalities, ODOT’s data shows.
Canadian County District Judge Paul Hesse set bail for Biffle at $2,000. An initial court arraignment has been continued to 9 a.m. Jan. 10 before Special Judge Khristan Strubhar.
A check of Oklahoma district court records indicates Biffle has committed a list of criminal and traffic offenses.
Biffle was convicted in 2017 in LeFlore County on felony charges of possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance (methamphetamine) and possession of drug paraphernalia. He received a three-year deferred sentence.
In 2012, Biffle pleaded guilty in Oklahoma County to a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol and received a two-year deferred sentence.
Biffle also was charged in 2012 in Garvin County with public intoxication.
WRONGFUL DEATH SUIT FILED
Meanwhile, Biffle and Eminger Trucking LLC are defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit filed Dec. 16 in Canadian County District Court. Eminger Trucking of Hinton owns the semi-trailer that Biffle was driving about 2:30 p.m. Nov. 24 when the fatal crash occurred, court records show.
Plaintiffs in the wrongful death suit are Deborah J. Davis, Ray Davis’ widow; and his estate.
The suit, filed by attorney Kevin H. Cunningham, notes that Ray Davis was a “very experienced rider” and had ridden motorcycles since he was 15 years old. He was wearing a helmet and other safety gear.
“As Ray approached the intersection of Route 66 and Banner Road, defendant Biffle failed to stop at a stop sign, failed to stop for flashing red lights controlling his lane of travel, failed to yield to oncoming traffic and drove the semi-trailer into the intersection directly in front of Ray,” according to the lawsuit.
“Defendant’s Biffle’s decisions, actions and conduct resulted in a deadly collision. … (his) decisions, actions and conduct killed Ray.”
Plaintiffs claim Biffle negligently operated the semi-truck pulling a cattle trailer and that caused the fatal traffic collision.
His actions and conduct have taken Deborah Davis’ “husband away from her and destroyed, devastated and shattered the Davis family,” the petition reads.
Biffle is accused of failing to take action to help Davis by not flagging down other motorists or calling 911 after the crash.
Instead he “stood back and watched Ray Lee Davis die as a result of the serious injuries that he inflicted and caused,” according to the lawsuit.
Among other causes of action, the plaintiffs claim in the civil suit that defendant Eminger Trucking negligently entrusted a vehicle to Biffle on Nov. 24 for operation and use.
The trucking company and trailer owner “knew or should have known” that a driver with Biffle’s history and condition “would pose a serious and immediate threat to the public and other drivers,” the suit states.
Plaintiffs are seeking more than $1 million in punitive damages.
“Defendant Biffle’s failure to help, failure to offer any assistance, failure to call 911, and failure to show any remorse for the injuries caused to and condition of Ray are clear evidence of a callous disregard for the health and safety of the general public,” according to the lawsuit.
The wrongful death suit has been assigned to District Judge Jack McCurdy.