Health problem caused fatal crash

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — A former commercial truck driver's seizure behind the wheel apparently resulted in a fatal head-on collision between two tractor-trailers on Interstate 77 in Carroll County on Feb. 17.

Following the investigation of the accident that left the driver of the other truck dead, Virginia State Police charged Brian Scott Grubbs, 39, of Anderson, S.C., with involuntary manslaughter and reckless driving.

Grubbs appeared with his attorney, Nathan Lyons, in Carroll County General District Court on Tuesday to answer the charges.

At the time of the accident, Grubbs drove a 2002 Peterbilt tractor-trailer, owned by Dowell Express of Lavonia, Ga.

At about noon that day, the Peterbilt left the northbound lanes of I-77, crashed through the guardrail, went through the median and collided with a southbound 1999 Volvo tractor-trailer, owned by CRST Premier Transport of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, near the 22 mile marker.

Grubb's truck plowed through the cab of the other tractor-trailer — killing driver Sabato Lettieri, 54, of New York — and went up an embankment on the southbound side.

Carroll Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Karen Boyer made a motion to drop the involuntary manslaughter charge subject to a guilty plea on the reckless driving charge. Lyons said Grubbs stipulated that the commonwealth had sufficient evidence for a finding of guilt on the remaining charge.

The reason for the dismissal of the involuntary manslaughter charge stemmed from Grubbs receiving a "medical diagnosis of new onset seizures, compatible with multifocal partial epilepsy," Boyer told Judge E.M. Turner III.

On the reckless driving charge, the sentence was a 12-month jail term, suspended on good behavior, and a $1,000 fine with $750 of that suspended.