Three Angels Farms, a Lebanon-based company that has been subject to controversy after recent traffic incidents involving fully loaded horse trailers, has been ordered by the U.S. Department of Transportation to cease all transportation operations.
The order, filed Friday, follows a federal investigation of the company and its owners, Edwin Ayache and Dorian Ayache, which found multiple violations.
Among the department's findings, investigators discovered that the company permitted its drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles without commercial driver's licenses and did not conduct proper controlled substances testing of its drivers.
"Safety is always our top priority," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "If a truck company ignores federal safety rules and places the traveling public at risk, we will remove them from the road."
In its order, federal agents said none of the company's three drivers are qualified to drive a commercial vehicle; in fact, one had tested positive on a drug test and was allowed to drive anyway, a violation of the law.
The agents wrote that another trucker, the one who was driving in January when he flipped his horse trailer, admitted he'd been working all night at the farm with only 30 minutes rest during a 24-hour period. He said he fell asleep at the wheel.
The Federal Motor Carrier Administration said Three Angels Farms' equipment is mechanically unsafe and risks the lives of the drivers and everyone else on the roads.
The agency said that the trailer involved in the January wreck had mostly bald tires, brakes out of adjustment and rusted cross-members in the under-carriage.
In the June 12 wreck - the one where the trailer broke in half - inspectors said they found holes rusted through support beams and brakes out of service. They also found the driver, Scott York, had no CDL.
WSMV obtained York's Kentucky driving history. It shows he'd been caught driving on a suspended license three times in the four years prior to the wreck, yet according to York's traffic citation from the crash, he was working for Three Angels Farms as a full-time employee.
Federal authorities have not completely slammed the door shut on Three Angels Farm's trucking operation. The order said Three Angels can resume operations if it comes into compliance with federal trucking laws.
The same agency closed Three Angels Farms' trucking operation once before, but the company reopened, using a different owner's name.
Earlier this month, a Three Angels Farms driver was cited after a fully loaded horse trailer he was driving collapsed while traveling along I-440 in south Nashville.
The incident occurred when the trailer, carrying 37 horses, structurally failed by buckling in the center.
One of the horses was euthanized due to its injuries.
In January, a livestock trailer from Three Angels Farms was loaded with 38 horses when it crashed near mile marker 182 in Williamson County.
The truck's driver suffered minor injuries in the crash after authorities said he likely fell asleep at the wheel. Three of the horses were killed, and two were seriously injured in that wreck.
In both wrecks, the THP confirmed the destination was Presidio, TX. Presidio is a border town where horses are kept in pens until they're slaughtered in Mexican meat packing plants.
After the January wreck, the Channel 4 I-Team uncovered documents that showed four injured horses from Three Angels Farms were rejected by Mexican veterinarians at the border, just two days after the Three Angels Farm trailer wrecked on the interstate in Tennessee.
Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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