Booze, meth and coke found inside big-rig that killed Henrico woman

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HENRICO, Va. (WTVR)--The federal government shut down a trucking company involved in a deadly wreck in Henrico County the day before Thanksgiving.

According to an “Out-Of-Service Order” issued on Dec. 17 by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, CER Trucking, LLC, based in South Carolina, is an imminent hazard.

Police charged Clarence Edward Risher, Jr. with a slew of charges, including reckless driving and driving without a license, after the wreck.

Risher is the son of CER Trucking, LLC's owner, Clarence Edward Risher.

The feds said police found an open container of alcohol, methamphetamine, and cocaine inside Risher’s truck after the crash.

Sixty-year-old Karen Ann Whitaker was killed when police said a big-rig driven by Risher T-boned her car.

After the crash, the FMCSA initiated an investigation into CER Trucking, LLC.

Investigators found the company to be “reckless” with “almost nonexistent management safety oversight.”

In fact, during the investigation, they found three of the company’s four drivers were not even qualified to drive commercial motor vehicles.

One driver’s truck driving license had been suspended for almost four years, and another driver was convicted of marijuana possession while working, according to the order.

In a phone conversation, Whitaker’s daughter Tammy Harris told CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipolit that it is a “tragedy that it took my mom’s death before this was investigated.”

Harris said she wished the company was investigated a long time ago, and she asked Melissa, “why weren’t they enforced prior to this?  Why did it have to take a tragedy for this to be brought up now?”

Dale Bennett with the Virginia Trucking Association said there are a number of enforcement methods in place to keep tabs on truckers.

“They have computers and technology at the roadside to select vehicles/drivers for inspection, and at the federal level they have databases set up to target those companies that are having safety issues for close audits and inspections,” Bennett said.

A spokesperson from the FMCSA told Melissa that national database keeps track of violations using a formula to highlight the companies that need the most oversight.

But, Stephen Keppler, with the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, said sometimes smaller trucking companies, like CER Trucking, LLC, can slip through the cracks.

“When you have such a small carrier you`re going to have those types of situations where you don`t have all the data in there based on the algorithm,” Keppler said.

Because this is an ongoing investigation, the FMCSA would not talk about CER Trucking, Inc. specifically.

Keppler said the agency is constantly re-evaluating the process by which it monitors companies, particularly when it comes to smaller carriers.

Note: In the video version of this story, we referred to the person charged in the crash as Clarence Edward Risher, the owner of CER Trucking, LLC.   In fact, the person charged was Clarence Edward Risher Jr., the owner's son.


  • Don Lanier

    data in there based on the algorithm, Thats whats wrong with trucking today, too many decisions based on the Algorithm and not enough plain old common sense….DATA doesnt drive trucks, MEN DO…

  • Elaine Hoke

    My mother was murdered by Ruan trucking company on Route 29 North on August 31, 1990 in Ruckersville by a truck driver who was never prosecuted for his crime. The driver never stopped and completely ran over my mother and 4 other woman who were on their way home from work. The company falsified records and never provided any information for the investigation. As a matter of fact, the Virginia state police never investigated anything and could have cared less that five women from rural Greene county were either dead and severely injured. The only reason any information ever came to light is due to another woman who was left mentally disabled in a vegetative state and her insurance company hired a private investigator. These truck drivers use these routes because they know no one will stop them or check their credentials.

  • david

    states make too much money off the companies so let them roll on.Nest time your driving down the road beside one take a look at it’s tires,bet they are beyond bald.Taxes are king in this state and protecting other motorist is second or third.This is why you rarely see a trooper with a rig pulled over on the highway,there instructed not to bother them.

  • Clay Morrow

    All big rigs come equipped with booze, meth, and coke. If I drove a truck all day amongst the idiots in regular cars, I would have be high as well.

    • Scott

      Dont think you drive a truck, hope like hell you dont ! Your comment is stupid , such as yourself…..
      Legit companies, work on their safety records, only for insurance reasons….Big time companies pay big bucks for their insurance in order to operate…It is up to the individual companies to train their drivers up to date methods, in safety, handling, and DOT laws in which affects theirdrivers on the road….So the drugs you speak of , have no merit Iin the trucking Industry…You sir, are a complete Iidiot !

  • David Baker

    Truck drivers do have a rough way to go. DOT police more less harass them day in and day out. I am very surprised that this company slipped through the cracks.

  • dl

    I have to agree with the above statement. The statement that state police are instucted to leave them alone is complete nonsense. I am on the road all day 5 days a week and see DOT sitting on the side of the roads that bypass the highway scales, waiting to pul a truck over and put it thru the ringers.

  • WorkingMan

    I’ve never liked that people always defend truckers’ use of hard drugs while driving. Look at Clay Morrow’s post here, for an example of what I’m talking about. ‘The backbone of America’ — please. America shouldn’t be known for it’s rampant drug use, especially by drivers who are supposed to be responsible adults.

  • caroline miller

    Same thing happened on I-85 outside Chapel Hill summer of 2012. Small trucking company out of TN; driver’s bloodstream loaded with drugs & alcohol; 3people in 3 of the cars hit were trapped and all burned to death. The driver of the 4th vehicle made it out and the trucker “couldn’t remember what happened” as he walked away. Trucking company immediately filed bankruptcy.

  • Tim

    So since y’all judge all truck drivers by the actions of one then it’s fair to say I as a truck driver can judge all automobile drivers by the actions of one that being the countless lives lost each year by drunk drivers but I guess that has just grown on our society and ignored. I am a truck driver with over 12 years behind the wheel and in all that time I have never fail a drug or alcohol test as required by DOT and I have had 4 ransoms done this year alone I have only been involved in one accident in all my yrs driving and no one else was involved. So I’ll remember the next time I get cut off and have to stop an 80,000 lbs rig with little to no warning to judge every other driver as that one acted. And for those with a problem with truck drivers then start hunting and gathering your own food and walking to wherever you need to go and making your own clothes cause if you eat it, wear it, drive it, or bought it in general then a truck brought it

  • Atruckerswife

    I have read all of the above comment and Tim you nailed it. As the wife of a trucker I know what you are talking about! .Seven years ago December, just before Christmas my husband was in an accident caused by a lady driving a car.This thing ran a red light throught an intersection hit one car and my husband. He ran over the front of her car, didn’t over turn his truck or kill a soul. My husband was injured and has a life time injury that woman wasn’t hurt! Because my husband is good at what he does NO ONE as killed that day! He could have taken out a small town! Because the fool who ran the red light hit, “the Gasman”, the truck was loaded.. People every driver is not on something. They can not stop on a DIME! You need to be aware of what you are doing as well, the life you save could be your own!

  • Kimberly Brick

    as a truck driver of over 10 years, i find some of the comments offensive. First off I hope they take this company and its “drivers” to the wall. Secondly, it is goofballs like this company which make the rest of us responsible truckers look bad. I have never failed a drug test and have only been involved in one stupid accident which was a fender bender only. the accident was totally my fault and I had to pay for the damages caused. This company should never have been operating and the fact that the state police didnt catch them before now is actually a scary thought. Where was this company operating at that its trucks never went over a scale or got stopped for a road side inspection? I mean seriously? Truckers tend to view the cops as thier enemys on the road for a reason: They hit us with unnecessary inspections and make our deliverys late even when there is something wrong we get hit with huge fines ( what I have been told, never experienced). I am not sure what you guys are thinking truckers are but most of us are just making barely minimum wage and working hard long hours on shifting schedules with no idea where we will be the next day or where headed. Some of us have given up months of time with family so other truckers can enjoy the holidays with thiers. Please understand not all truckers are like this company’s goofballs. Thanks and have a blessed day…

  • Ben Evans

    As a transportation industry professional, I also find some of the above comments offensive. Safety statistics involving commercial vehicles have been improving for 20 years straight. While actual people do drive trucks, it’s the collected data at safety inspections which help identify unsafe companies and shut them down when necessary. This is a highly regulated industry with new rules coming out every year to improve safety standards. This particular company’s actions should be viewed as criminal, and I’m not aware of any laws that prevent criminals from actually committing the crime.

  • Deanna

    I learned to drive a truck feom my father when I qas 15 years old and I am now a company driver for SWIFT TRANSPORTATION for years now ani am now 45. One thing I have learned over the years is that EVERY PROFESSION,….Truck drivers, teachers, Doctors, Care givers, bankers and stay at home parents ALL EQUALLY have pillars of admiration that stand out and shine, AND all have drug addicted alchoholic immorral abusers. it makes me sad to see so many people villonize truck drivers. I give up A LOT of time with my children, my grand children, my parents and grand parents and my friends so that these people that I love as well as all of the people that YOU love have clothes, food, medications, building supplys fuel…….everything you can not live your daily lives without, I give up my daily life to provide you and I do it sober and drug free. And I GAURENTEE drunk, a drug addict, a drug dealer, a pedefile, a murderer lives somewhere in YOUR very own neighborhood.. and they never drove a truck in their lives.

  • Justin Owens

    It’s an awful feeling to lose a loved one in an accident involving a tractor trailer. But, people need to realize that it’s not all of us truckers who cause these accidents. The general public who are uneducated on highway safety, it should be required for anyone who drives to know something about trucks and there regulations. They’re less than 2% of professional drivers who are on drugs and more than 35% of general public drivers driving while under the influence of drugs. You just can’t blame all truck drivers for a few bad ones, just like we don’t blame all car drivers for there misguided ignorance. Accidents happen. People die. Sorry, we all need to be more careful when driving!

Comments are closed.