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Archive for Saturday, September 2, 2006

Trucker faces charges in mistaken-ID crash

September 2, 2006

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— A truck driver was charged Friday with five counts of reckless homicide for a highway crash that crushed a university van and led to the heartbreaking mix-up of two students, one killed in the crash and the other severely injured but alive.

A four-month investigation concluded that trucker Robert F. Spencer acted recklessly when his tractor-trailer rig crossed the Interstate 69 median and collided with the van on April 26, Grant County Prosecutor James Luttrull Jr. said.

Four Taylor University students and a staff member were killed.

The crash drew widespread attention when two families discovered that one of the victims had been misidentified as a survivor. The two young women were similar in appearance, and the family of the one who died had kept vigil for five weeks at the bedside of the survivor, Whitney Cerak, believing she was their daughter. Cerak's family had buried 22-year-old Laura VanRyn's body, believing she was Whitney.

Spencer, 37, was arrested Friday afternoon at his trailer home in Canton Township, Mich., near Detroit.

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