I have been following a very disturbing story about a truck driver who may be facing prosecution for being attacked by a mob in his truck with gun and then trying to escape and accidentally dragging a person along under his truck.
Bogdan Vechirko, 35, of Otsego, was jailed Sunday evening on suspicion of assault and held in the Hennepin County jail until midday Tuesday in connection with his empty fuel tanker barreling through a crowd marching to protest the May 25 death of George Floyd after being restrained by Minneapolis police.
The County Attorney’s Office had until noon Tuesday to hold Vechirko without charges before they had to release him, pending further investigation, County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement Tuesday.
“Investigators are in the process of gathering additional information and answers to aid in the charging decision,” the statement says.
Earlier Tuesday, a relative of Vechirko’s said the harrowing incident was unintentional.
Art Loghinov said he has spoken with Vechirko since Sunday’s near-deadly sequence of events and is convinced that the incident on the bridge was “not his fault. … He didn’t have any intent to harm or do anything bad to anybody.”
People climbed atop the tanker as continued to move after plowing into protesters who had shut down the bridge. ] JEFF WHEELER • [email protected] A tanker truck plowed into a large group of demonstrators marching across the I-35W bridgeSunday evening, May 31, 2020 as they shut the highway down to protest the death of George Floyd.
State Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said Monday that the driver was speeding and “panicked, and he just kept barreling forward” but did not breach any barriers put up to protect the protesters and was not aiming for anyone.
On Tuesday, Harrington said he’d been talking with Freeman about potential charges.
“We just want to make sure, even though no one was killed … we are certainly getting to the right charge that holds him accountable for the behaviors,” he said.
Several protesters on the bridge, including Drew Valle, said the truck’s driver “wasn’t stopping. He was beeping loudly and driving into a crowd of people.”
Minneapolis schoolteacher Doug Butler said that while “we perhaps cannot know his motives … he sped [and] hurtled into protesters.”
Loghinov and others in the family commissioned a brief video that features Vechirko’s wife appealing for financial help on behalf of the couple.
Liudmila Vechirko, who is eight months pregnant, says in Russian with subtitles, “Due to multiple requests, I am recording this video for those who care and want to help our family.” She then holds up a piece of paper with an address for a PayPal fundraising account.
Liudmila Vechirko adds that “our credit cards are frozen since they stole his wallet, phone and all the belongings in the truck’s cabin.”
Loghinov also said the family is “very thankful for the people who came to rescue him and very grateful for the police” who fended off some of the marchers who began attacking Vechirko after his truck came to a stop on the bridge over the Mississippi River.
As for possible charges against those who went after Vechirko, state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension spokeswoman Jill Oliveira said Wednesday that “during interviews with him, the truck driver indicated to the BCA that he does not wish for charges to be filed against anyone for his injuries or damage sustained during the incident.”
The couple’s financial situation is under pressure from Vechirko missing work, his wife being pregnant and the potential for legal bills in connection with the incident, Loghinov said.
“They are not a rich family,” he said. “He is a hard worker and the only one bringing money to the family.”
Loghinov said Bogdan Vechirko came to the United States from Russia when he was 4 years old and met Liudmila in Minnesota. (source)
I say disturbing not for the driver’s actions, but rather what is happening to him.
I am going to give my thoughts on this, and what I say is wholly subject to the revelation of further information, for as with many thing, the legal process of discovery can yield many surprising things.
As in many previous article I have noted, I have some experience in the trucking industry, not as a driver, but in dispatch and fleet management.
The first thing that anybody learns about trucking is that a truck in an 80,000 pound (when fully loaded with tractor and trailer) death machine racing at 65 miles per hour down a highway. Basic physics teaches that Force = Mass x Acceleration, and so the force of a truck- fully loaded or not -is a serious thing.
When it comes to comparisons, you are an ant and a truck is a human foot. You will be crushed mercilessly because of the nature of the machine. Likewise, trucks are difficult to stop, and even when moving slow, they are a serious force and should NEVER EVER be approached while in motion, and even with the utmost care in cases when one must approach them, accidents can and often do happen because of the dangerous nature of the trucking industry.
This driver was driving a fuel truck. In the industry, fuel truck drivers are nicknamed “suicide jockeys” because if you have an accident, it is likely a death sentence because you are carrying fuel. It is a high-paying but possibly the most dangerous of all trucking subdivisions, it requires a lot of skill, and one accident means the end of your life often.
When I heard that the driver attempted to drive away from the mob, after having guns pointed at him, I can say that he did the right thing. There is a serious chance he may have died, and his attempt to try and get away was both a natural reaction for survival as well as a noble and good thing, for knowing that he has a fuel truck, it would not be good if a literal bomb-on-wheels-going-down-the-road-at-65-miles-per-hour fell into their hands.
This driver was not “unsafe” or doing anything wrong, morally or legally, with his reaction. In fact, he was probably safer than how many would have reacted in what he did.
The fact that somebody got caught under his trucking wheel is his own fault. Only an idiot would put himself in a position to get seriously injured by a truck, and the fact that criminal behavior was involved makes it his own fault completely.
But what is most disgusting is that it appears that the local government is trying to make an example of him to prosecute him for his actions. This is insulting as it is insane because it ignores the reality that his life was in danger and that his actions were trying to save himself and prevent dangerous cargo from falling into the hands of evil people.
I can speak from experience that on I-10 and in the open highway areas south near the Mexican border, there are drug cartels who openly operate checkpoints that try to stop trucks and rob them. Those truck drivers are instructed many times to literally “barrel through” these fake checkpoints and ignore if anybody gets hurt or killed because the drivers will likely die if they stop. Likewise, speaking from experience and having worked for a year on the border dispatch between Mexico and the US, there is too often a pattern of trucks that transfer from Laredo (one of the major transit stations in the US that goes into Mexico) and if they do not disappear or the trailer comes back full of bullet holes, that the driver bringing it back to the US is new with a new cab because the previous driver was murdered by cartels in a highway robbery and the company is still trying to clean the remains of the poor previous driver out from the inside of the cab.
What is next? That the cartels will be protected by the courts when truck drivers go through them and a cartel member is killed, and instead the driver is prosecuted?
There will likely be more information that emerges on this case. However, based strictly on what I can ascertain from the current circumstances, and barring the revelation of information that would suggests an alternative motive or actions, that driver is not just a wise trucker, but a hero who is being abused as part of a sick game of power in which he is being treated as a sacrificial pawn.