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Tue. 9:30 a.m.: Cleveland dump truck driver, who hit sign that killed driver, indicted

CLEVELAND (AP) — A dump truck driver who struck a large metal sign on a busy Cleveland highway last year, causing it to fall on a passing pickup truck and killing the driver, has been indicted on aggravated vehicular homicide charges.

Jason Beard, 38, of Cleveland, was operating the dump truck recklessly when the crash occurred Sept. 24, according to the indictment recently handed up by a Cuyahoga County grand jury. He’s due to be arraigned March 23, and it wasn’t known this morning if he’s retained an attorney.

The crash happened around 8:30 a.m. in the westbound lanes of Interstate 480 at the State Road exit.

Beard had just dropped off a load of sand at a work site on the side of the highway near the exit and was merging back onto the roadway with the truck’s dump bed still raised, investigators said. The bed then struck the highway sign that extended over three lanes of traffic.

The sign fell on a pickup driven by Daniel Ripepi, 62, of Independence, who was traveling in one of the highway’s middle lanes. Ripepi, the vice president of a funeral home, was alone in his vehicle at the time and was killed.

In a written statement, Beard told authorities he knew the bed wasn’t lowered all the way. However, it was in the process of lowering, he said, and he thought it should have been all the way down by the time he got on the highway.

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