25 Investigates: ‘Illegal’ trucks run at night knowing Mass. inspectors ‘typically only work days’

DEDHAM, Mass. — The Massachusetts State Police unit that enforces trucking regulations has been ranked as one of the best in the country for preventing deadly crashes, according to the American Transportation Research Institute, the trucking industry’s not-for-profit research organization. However, 25 Investigates found a gap in enforcement that some trucking companies exploit.

On Monday, 25 Investigates reported on a highway crash that killed 25-year-old Jacob Brisbois from Princeton, MA last June. Brisbois and a friend had stopped their motorcycles in the breakdown of Route 190 in Lancaster when he was struck and killed instantly by an oversized truck carrying a crane.

“I don’t get through a day without crying. It’s been horrible for all of us but we’re so trivial compared to what was taken from Jake,” said Donna Brisbois, Jacob’s mom.

Jarod Hardaker, a truck driver from Hubbardston, has pleaded not guilty to motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation and negligent operation of a motor vehicle. Hardaker is the general manager of Assabet Heavy Hauling in Shirley. He was transporting a Mantis crane to a construction site in Rhode Island when according to court documents, the oversized load clipped Brisbois as it passed at 1:30 a.m.

An anonymous tipster, who claimed to be a former Assabet employee told state police, that the company regularly operates overnight without permitting.

“This truck could be driving next to my wife, and my child, or my mother,” said Joseph Mokrisky, President of Capitol Motor Carrier Compliance, a trucking safety company.

Mokrisky told investigative reporter Ted Daniel that oversized and overweight trucks that exceed the limits of standard permitting need superload permits from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Superloads require signage, specified routes, and escort vehicles to guide them.

25 Investigates requested all Assabet Heavy Hauling’s superload permits since 2018 through a public records request. According to MassDOT, there are none. The MassDOT lawyer who fulfilled the public records request confirmed Assabet opened 4 but “they never completed the final steps to officially submit the applications, so none were issued or denied.”

Assabet did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

A member of the Massachusetts State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Section (CVES) or Truck Team who investigated the crash wrote in his report “it is a regular practice for companies to move oversize loads” overnight because federal and state inspectors “typically only work day shift and sometimes evening shifts, but rarely in the morning hours”.

“The state police Truck Team does a great job, but there’s not a lot of them overall, for the amount of trucks we have in Massachusetts,” Mokrisky said.

A State Police spokesperson confirmed there are no Truck Team members regularly scheduled to patrol between 11 pm and 7 am and a public records request revealed there have been no Truck Team checkpoints or special enforcement operations in the overnight hours since at least June 2023.

Truck team members do patrol overnight on overtime shifts. Data provided by the agency shows members have stopped and inspected 1,820 commercial vehicles during the hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. since June and 457 vehicles were inspected during the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. in the same period.

“The unit considers data related to the frequency, peak times, and types of commercial vehicle crashes. The CVES has been recognized by the federal government numerous times over the past 15 years for its role in helping Massachusetts achieve the lowest commercial vehicle crash fatality rate for its population category,” a spokesperson said.

Jarod Hardaker’s lawyer told 25 Investigates Hardaker was not driving negligently and is cooperating with law enforcement.

Court records show Assabet Heavy Hauling has received notice of a pending civil suit.

“I’m trying to deal with this incredible grief even nine months later. It’s very, very hard,” Donna Brisbois said.

Anyone who has information about an oversized/overweight truck can call the State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Section at 978-369-1004.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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