Company settles with widow in truck death


INEZ – A jury trial will not be necessary in the matter of the death of Rev. Lonny C. Preece now that a settlement has been reached between Mrs. Doris Preece, widow, and the companies. The terms and amounts of the settlements are not known. “We cannot reveal that information,” John Kirk, attorney for Mrs. Preece said. “I will just say that the three companies involved did the right and just things.”

Rev. Preece, age 55, was a well-known and, according to his many friends and neighbors, a well-liked and respected resident of Blacklog near Inez. Rev. Preece, a former career coal miner, had taken trash from the home he shared with his wife to a collection station west of Inez and was returning home in the early morning of March 2005 when his vehicle was crashed into by a coal truck on Rt. 40 one mile east of Sheldon Clark High School by a coal truck operated by Charles Wiley. The truck, owned by Hall Trucking Company, had been loaded at Appalachian Fuels, a coal mining company in Pike County near Sidney. The truck had traveled down Rt. 292 through Lovely and onto Rt. 40 and west. Kentucky 292 is approved for a weight of 44,000 pounds. Rt. 40 is approved for a weight of 66,000 pounds.

As the coal truck traveled west at Blacklog, it came upon a Martin County water truck stopped in the west-bound lane so that it could turn left. The loaded truck, unable to be stopped according to its driver, swerved left to avoid the water truck and crashed into Rev. Preece’s pickup truck. The driver later testified in a deposition that he could not stop the truck “because it was overloaded.”

Doris Preece filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Martin Circuit Court in May 2005 in which she named Appalachian Fuels Coal Company, the company that mined and loaded the truck that crashed into the Preece vehicle. She also sued the truck driver, the trucking company and New River Coal Company, a broker who hired the trucks to haul the coal.

Kirk’s theory of the case was that liability and blame lay with the trucking company and also with the mining company and the broker. “They all did it,” he said. “The mining company overloaded the truck. It knew better.”