A truck driver has been convicted of aggravated driving under the influence and reckless homicide for driving his tractor-trailer at a high rate of speed with crack cocaine in his system, running a red light and killing a Summerfield woman in 2016.
A St. Clair County jury on Thursday found the driver guilty of charges stemming from the crash on U.S. 50 near O’Fallon, which claimed the life of a 67-year-old woman.
Orlando V. Luke, of Augusta, Ga., was driving a tractor-trailer on U.S. 50 east of O’Fallon when he and his female passenger got into an argument. She jumped out of the moving truck.
Other motorists called 911, but before officers got there, there were more 911 calls reporting a chain-reaction crash involving a semi.
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Luke was traveling at a high rate of speed when he smashed into four cars. Cheryl Culver, 67, a driver of one of the cars, was killed. Four others, including the woman who jumped from Luke’s truck, were treated at area hospitals.
Tests later revealed Luke had crack in his system at the time of the crash.
The trial in St. Clair County concluded Thursday with a guilty verdict. More than 25 witnesses testified in the case. Assistant St. Clair County state’s attorneys Jim Fuld and Areda Johnson prosecuted Luke.
“The prosecutors, the police and the witnesses from the public all put in a tremendous effort to bring this defendant to justice,” St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said. “On the spectrum of these kind of cases, this was one of the worst.”
Culver’s estate has filed suit against Luke and the trucking company, LX Express, of Georgia. That suit is pending.
Luke could face between three and 14 years when he is sentenced.
In 1993, Luke led Georgia state troopers on a 50-mile chase at speeds of more than 120 mph that ended with Luke barricading himself in his car, smoking crack and pointing a gun at his head. The standoff ended with Luke shooting a state trooper.
He claimed that he was fleeing from armed hit men with Uzis. Shooting the trooper was an accident, he said.
Luke later stated to police that he had been speeding, that he had no intention of running anyone off the road and was not trying to hurt anyone, according to a George Court of Appeals opinion that affirmed his conviction.