FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina – Mountaire Farms settled a wrongful death lawsuit this week with the family of Sheila Hernandez for an undisclosed sum, a company spokesperson said.
Hernandez, six, was killed when Gary Kendall Garnett, a fleet driver for the Delaware-based poultry processing company, slammed his truck into a school bus on January 13. The impact pushed the bus more than 400 feet into the yards of houses and injured 17 people, including Garnett.
Garnett had a history of accidents and has received at least 21 driving citations since 1984. He also has a criminal past. In 1999 Garnett was convicted of felony possession of stolen goods after he drove past a woman and grabbed her purse, dragging her beside the vehicle. In 1997 he was convicted of felony common law robbery and larceny.
Mountaire Farms checked Garnett’s motor vehicle record and employment history three years prior to hiring him, though his violations occurred before that time. The company had a good safety record, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It turns out that all of Garnett’s violations and convictions occurred before the MVR check.
Garnett will be tried for misdemeanor death by vehicle on May 13, said Johnson Britt, the district attorney prosecuting the case.