Semi-truck driver charged in fatal crash

Girl was killed in July 2020 collision on I-40 near Richland Road

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By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

A semi-truck driver has been accused of not paying attention behind the wheel and causing a crash that killed a child on Interstate 40 west of Yukon.

Bedford, Va.’s Benjamin Samuel Martin, 35, was formally charged Oct. 25 in Canadian County District Court with negligent homicide by motor vehicle.

The misdemeanor crime is punishable by a $100-$1,000 fine and/or up to one year in prison.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol investigated the fatal July 2020 traffic collision on eastbound Interstate 40 near Richland Road.

Assistant District Attorney Eric Epplin alleges Martin caused the death of nine-year-old Avery Reynolds by driving a 2020 Peterbilt semi-truck “in a manner which evidenced his reckless disregard for the safety of others,” according to court documents.

Prosecutors allege the defendant’s actions resulted in him striking a KIA Sorrento, leading to the girl’s death.

Avery Reynolds was one of two child passengers in the KIA Sorrento, driven by Lisa Reynolds of Broken Arrow.

OHP trooper Mat Conway determined Martin caused the girl’s death “by ignoring the responsibilities as a licensed driver to devote his full time and attention to the road and to his surroundings,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

Troopers Shayne Ballard and Conway reviewed “dash cam” video evidence of the crash which occurred about 6:20 a.m. July 29, 2020. They determined:

  • Lisa Reynolds was driving the KIA Sorrento in the outside lane of I-40 approaching Richland Road following her friend Mary Patrick driving a 1979 Winnebago recreational vehicle at a “slow rate of speed” directly in front. They were traveling together back to Broken Arrow from Mangum.
  • The KIA was struck from behind by the 73,900-pound Peterbilt tractor trailer, driven by Martin, traveling in the outside eastbound lane. The impact forced the KIA into the RV.
  • The KIA left the roadway to the right, striking a tree before coming to a rest.
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72 MPH, 28 MPH

The semi-truck driver was “distracted behind the wheel” while traveling about 72 mph for 10 seconds before impact with the KIA, according to trooper Conway’s affidavit.

The KIA and RV were moving “at a speed less than the posted maximum 70 mph and below the posted minimum 45 mph,” the investigator wrote.

The investigation later revealed the KIA was traveling about 28 mph near impact with the semi-truck.

Patrick told OHP troopers the RV was having mechanical issues and would not accelerate over 40 mph, according to the affidavit.

The woman said she and Lisa Reynolds were “trying to make it to the next off-ramp” and exit the highway.

Lisa Reynolds and her children were taken by ambulance to OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City. Avery Reynolds died at 7:17 a.m. from injuries sustained in the collision.

Investigators determined Martin was not impaired.

Canadian County District Judge Jack D. McCurdy has issued a warrant for the defendant’s arrest. Bond is set at $25,000.

The court case has been assigned to Special Judge Khristan K. Strubhar.

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