JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — There’s an open investigation into how a truck driver with diagnosed mental health issues was able to obtain a Missouri commercial driver’s license months before he caused a deadly crash near Indianapolis.
The Missouri Department of Revenue issues those licenses. Department spokeswoman Anne Marie Moy declined comment to 41 Action News due to the open investigation.
Bruce Pollard, 57, pleaded guilty but mentally ill in an Indiana courtroom Friday to three counts of reckless homicide, one count of reckless operation of a vehicle in a highway work zone, and seven counts of reckless driving. An Indiana judge accepted his plea.
Last July, Pollard rammed his tractor-trailer into a line of cars at a marked construction zone on an Indianapolis highway.
Alanna Koons and her twin toddler daughters, June and Ruby, were all killed in the crash. Several other people were injured.
Pollard’s attorney, Jack Crawford, submitted 700 pages of documents to the court detailing Pollard’s mental illness, including medical records.
“He clearly should not have been driving a 60,000-pound heavy truck on the interstate highway,” Crawford said.
Part of those records include comments from a June 26, 2015, medical exam of Pollard, which reads in part: “Bizarre in appearance and behavior, randomly shouting things and pounding on the armrest of his chair."
An occupational therapist's report on Pollard from June 18, 2015, found his short-term memory, recall of new learning, judgment and insight, attention, organization and functional communication skills were all impaired.
Doctors indicated Pollard’s mental health issues might have been caused by “white brain matter lesions."
According to hospital records, Pollard was found to "need long-term skilled nursing facility placement" after an exam on July 6, 2015.
“Five minutes with Mr. Pollard would convince anyone that he has a mental illness,” Crawford said in court on Friday.
However, on Feb. 21, 2019, federal records show a doctor found Pollard qualified, without any restrictions, to get his required medical certificate to obtain his Missouri commercial driver’s license.
According to Crawford, Pollard used that medical certificate to get his CDL last summer, before the fatal crash. It happened despite what Crawford says is Pollard’s obvious mental illness.
“That should’ve been noticed by someone, and he should not have received his commercial driver’s license," Crawford said. "That’s another question in this case, how did he obtain his commercial driver’s license and why was he allowed to drive?”
Pollard worked for North Kansas City’s Weston Transportation at the time of the deadly crash.
As the 41 Action News Investigators first reported last August, federal investigators found Pollard illegally failed to reveal he was fired from a previous job for careless driving and failed to reveal he had been in a previous crash.
Weston representatives have declined comment.
Pollard is scheduled to be sentenced in March.
“I think at his sentencing hearing, Mr. Pollard will even express that he knows he should not be driving,” Crawford said.
Under terms of his plea deal, Pollard faces three to nine years at an Indiana Department of Corrections mental facility.