Is this Washington trucking company a Chameleon Carrier?

2017-07-28T20:15:36+00:00July 28th, 2017|Truck and Trailer Owners|
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A motor carrier in Yakima, Diamond Freight, has been tied to another serious truck crash* in Central Washington.

 Yakima trucking company involved in second fatal crash, via Yakima Herald

The local news outlet reported that “The Washington State Patrol confirmed that both drivers worked for Diamond Freight Systems — which also goes by NW Freight Inc. — based at the same Yakima address…” (emphasis added).

This statement sets off an alarm bell.

I’ve seen trucking companies try to avoid the repercussions of causing serious crashes.

They register the company under a new name. They get a new DOT number.

In the trucking industry, they’re called chameleon carriers. 

Coluccio_Law_Trucking_Blog_Chameleon_Carrier

“Chameleon carriers” are trucking companies that change their names, DOT numbers, to hide from the consequences of crashes or federal safety violations.

Here’s what we know.

“Diamond Freight” truck crashes

According to news reports, Diamond Freight has been involved in several serious collisions in the last few years.

July 6, 2017:   A Diamond Freight trucker in a box truck crossed the center line on Highway 153, and hit a semi-truck on the other side. Both truck drivers died. A passenger in the box truck was also injured. The crash investigation is ongoing.

March 2015:   A Diamond Freight trucker crossed the center line on Washington’s Highway 97, and struck a passenger car before colliding with a school bus.

The driver of the car was killed. The bus driver and some of the children on the bus were injured, as were the trucker and his passenger. The trucker is currently serving time in jail for vehicular manslaughter.

Washington-State-Patrol_Yakima-truck-crash

Diamond Freight’s driver was charged with Vehicular Manslaughter after this March, 2015 crash.

February 2014:   Before the March 2015 collision, the same trucker was operating a Diamond Freight box truck when he crossed the center line and struck an oncoming Honda. The people in that car were seriously hurt.

Investigating trucking companies

We know Diamond Freight was involved in two fatal crashes, and then another with serious injuries.

We know that the local news reported Diamond Freight is “also known as” NW Freight Inc.

Does that mean NW Freight is a chameleon carrier, a reincarnated version of Diamond Freight?

Fortunately,  safety records of motor carriers are public information.

The FMCSA maintains a database called SAFER (Safety and Fitness Electronic Records System). Companies registered in Washington State can be verified in the Secretary of State’s database.

Diamond Freight Systems, Inc. 
USDOT #: 544370
Washington State filing date: January 1991
Address: 645 Keys Road, Yakima
Phone: 509-453-3137

  • Fatal crashes reported: 0
  • Injury crashes reported: 0
Northwest Freight and Parcel, LLC
USDOT #: 2823911
Washington State filing date: July 31, 2015
Address: 645 Keys Road, Yakima
Phone: 509-453-3137

  • Fatal crashes reported: 1
  • Injury crashes reported: 0

Is this trucking company a chameleon carrier?

I can’t say with certainty that this company was created as a chameleon carrier.

But there are so many details that just don’t make sense.

On one side, despite the news reports, Diamond Freight Systems, Inc., and Northwest Freight, LLC, do not appear to be the same company.

  • They have different USDOT numbers. That’s how the federal government identifies registered motor carriers. Each individual company should have only one active number.
  • Neither has a “DBA”  listing. Any name other than the legal name must be listed as a DBA (Doing Business As) name.
  • One is an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation). The other is a regular Corporation.
  • They have different named officers.

On the other side:

  • Northwest Freight, LLC, was created in July 2015—conveniently, shortly after the truck crashes in February 2014 and March 2015.
  • The companies share an address.
  • They share a phone number.
  • Diamond Freight’s SAFER Report shows no fatal crashes  in the last 24 months. But, we know that’s not right: there was a double fatality collision on July 6, 2017.
  • Northwest Freight reports one fatal crash in the last 24 months. Is that the crash from July 6? If so, that means they’re the same company.

NWFreight-TruckCrashData

 

They have continued to operate, but just call themselves something different,

under another corporation, because they’ve got this lawsuit pending … ”

Attorney G. Joe Schwab to Yakima Herald

We probably won’t know the answer. At least we know that Mr. Schwab, the lawyer representing the young woman killed back in March 2015, will investigate. 

I hope he can uncover the truth about what’s happening at this trucking company—whether or not they are a chameleon carrier— and then get some measure of justice for the family.


Truck-Crash-not-Accident_Coluccio-Law

 

We say “crash” instead of “accident”.

Coluccio Law does not refer to predictable, preventable truck crashes as “accidents.”

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