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Truck driver broke driving hours rule at time of crash that killed fire official

bcfpd memorial
KMIZ
Mourners set up a memorial for Boone County Fire Protection District assistant chief Bryant Gladney at the department's headquarters. Gladney died when a truck driven by Kevin Brunson hit and killed him on Interstate 70 on Dec. 22, 2021.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

State investigators said the truck driver that hit and killed a Boone County fire official in December drove beyond the amount of time allowed by federal rules.

A crash report written by the Missouri State Highway Patrol said Kevin Brunson had exceeded "the maximum driving time allowed by federal regulations at the time of [the] crash" that killed Boone County Fire Protection District Assistant Chief Bryant Gladney. The report, obtained by ABC 17 News through a records request, does not specify how long Brunson had been driving.

The Boone County Prosecutor's Office tells ABC 17 News that it is reviewing the case. Assistant prosecutor Merilee Crockett did not return a request for comment on the progress of that review on Monday.

The report gives new details on the Dec. 22 crash on Interstate 70 that killed Gladney in eastern Boone County. He and several others were investigating a different tractor-trailer that had rolled onto its side around 4:30 a.m. Gladney parked his SUV in the right lane of the interstate with its emergency lights flashing. Video obtained by ABC 17 News from a witness shows Brunson, a driver with Express 2000, hitting Gladney's car from behind with Gladney inside.

A phone number listed for Brunson did not work. Messages to Express 2000 were not returned.

The report from Cpl. Nicholas March said Brunson told him after the crash that he did not know anyone was in the right lane of traffic at the time. Brunson allegedly told March that he was first driving in the left lane. Brunson said he began to slow down when he saw other trucks doing so, but then realized the truck in front of him was nearly stopped.

"So I'm trying to brake down and everything with the brakes and s---, so I pulled, I went over, I swerved into the right-hand lane," Brunson allegedly said in the report. "I seen it was clear, but I didn't see the police officer, you know, the police officer's car there until it was too late, sir. Whatever, it was too late."

It's likely that Brunson was referring to Gladney. Video of the crash does not show any law enforcement at the scene. Only Gladney and an ambulance from MU Health Care were on scene at the time, according to the report and video. Gladney's vehicle was equipped with emergency lights.

March said Brunson then told him that he did suspect emergency crews were in the right lane at the time. Brunson reportedly said he got into the left lane because "it looked like some problems going on" in the right lane because of flashing lights. Brunson said he then saw the truck in front of him slowing so much that he feared he would hit it, causing him to get back into the right lane.

Witnesses told the patrol that they felt Brunson was driving too quickly for the situation. March even wrote "too fast for conditions" as a contributing factor for the crash, along with "failed to yield."

Federal rules dictate how long certain drivers can spend on the road. The report does not say which rule Brunson may have broken at the time of the crash. Cpl. Kyle Green, a spokesman for MSHP's Troop F, said he could not comment on the report since the investigation is still active.

Gladney was the first worker with the Boone County Fire Protection District to die on the job. His funeral in Columbia drew hundreds of people.

Lucas Geisler

Lucas Geisler anchors the 5 p.m. show for ABC 17 News and reports on the latest news around mid-Missouri at 9 and 10 p.m.

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