Truck driver watching football caused fatal I-81 crash, police say

Carlisle/West Shore

A Chambersburg truck driver was watching a football game when he caused a fatal crash involving a motorcycle on Interstate 81 in Cumberland County last fall, police said.

Kevin M. Souriyavong, 34, was charged Monday with felony homicide by vehicle and five summary traffic offenses for the Oct. 16 crash in Dickinson Township.

John Baum Jr., 56, of Walnut Bottom, died after Souriyavong struck the back of his 2005 Harley-Davidson about a mile south of the Plainfield exit. A passenger on the motorcycle was injured.

According to charging documents filed by state police, video from the dash camera in Souriyavong’s truck tractor shows he did not slow down until after the crash.

Souriyavong admitted he was distracted just before the crash, but he told police he had been looking at a construction area for a new warehouse to his right.

However, the dash camera video also includes “audio of what sounds like the commentary of a football game that can be heard clearly in the background” and the “reflection of what appears to be a smartphone or electronic portable device” that had been positioned to reflect on the windshield, the document states.

Police said the NFL game appears to be an Oct. 15 matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs, and the video shows the collision occurred at the very moment of a key play in the first quarter.

A search of Souriyavong’s phone also showed he sent 22 text messages and received 23 text messages during a run from Shippensburg to northeastern Pennsylvania and back. The text messages discussed placing bets on various football games, including the Steelers game, and “clearly displayed that Souriyavong had a vested interest in the outcome,” police wrote in the complaint.

Police said Souriyavong wasn’t focused on driving a fully loaded commercial vehicle, but on sending text messages and viewing and listening to videos on his cell phone.

Souriyavong was released on $10,000 unsecured bail following an arraignment. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 30.

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