Fatal semi wreck case moves closer to trial; Vehicle’s black box not yet reviewed

Dinko Blaskovic

BISBEE — The Texas semi-truck driver charged in January with manslaughter and negligent homicide in connection to a fatal accident on State Route 80 has been ordered back to court in June to set a trial date.

Dinko Blaskovic was at the wheel of a tractor-trailer owned by his company D&B Express when it collided head-on with a passenger van east of Douglas on Jan. 8. He was arrested after witnesses said his truck was trying to pass another semi-truck on a curve when the collision occurred.

Blaskovic, 68, was later indicted by a county grand jury on six felony charges. He is out of jail on a $250,000 secured appearance bond. There is no indication that drugs or alcohol contributed to the accident.

During a review hearing last week, defense attorney Ivan Abrams and the Cochise County Attorney’s Office told Presiding Judge James Conlogue they have yet to examine the truck to see if it contains an electronic data recorder (EDR) or “black box” that could provide crucial data. In the meantime, the truck remains in an Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) impound lot.

Conlogue ordered the parties back to court June 17 to set a trial date. The judge also received a defense motion to designate the case as complex, which would extend Blaskovic’s speedy trial deadline and other timelines in the case. A decision is expected soon on that request.

The accident

Court records show Blaskovic’s semi was westbound on SR80 when it began to pass another westbound tractor-trailer around 8 p.m. near milepost 382. The roadway is only two lanes at that spot.

“At this point Mr. Blaskovic was passing in a no passing zone, around a left hand curve, going uphill in between two rock walls making it impossible for Mr. Blaskovic to know if there was a vehicle coming in his direction,” DPS Trooper Marcelino Encinas wrote in a probable cause statement.

At the same time, Gregory Wayman and a longtime friend were headed eastbound in the van. Blaskovic was unable to maneuver his truck out of the way and crashed head on with Wayman’s van, “causing it to hit the rock wall on the south side of the roadway and then flipping it on its side,” Encinas wrote.

Wayman, 70, died at the scene and his male passenger was airlifted out with serious injuries.

Conlogue also referred Blaskovic’s case to another superior court judge for scheduling of a non-public settlement conference, at which the defense and prosecution will discuss a non-trial resolution to the criminal charges.

Under state law, victims and victim representatives are allowed to attend the settlement conference and have the right to comment on any plea and sentence stipulation.

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