Ithaca, N.Y. — The tractor trailer that crashed into Simeon’s Friday was owned by Auto Star Transport Inc. of Spokane, Washington, Ithaca police have said.
But that company was dissolved two months ago, according to Washington state records, confirmed by an official in the Secretary of State’s Office in Olympia. She said the company “dissolved voluntarily” April 21, 2014.
Furthermore, insurance for the company was “involuntarily revoked” in late January of this year, according to documents on file with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. An official in the Washington, D.C. office of FMCSA confirmed that the status indicating “Revoked” is “current.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation also lists the company as “Inactive.”
Auto Star “should not be operating across state lines,” said the FMCSA official. It no longer has authority to operate on its own as a carrier. The official said it is possible that the carrier had an agreement with another company that would allow it to operate with insurance. Such an arrangement would not show up in FMCSA records.
Several phone messages left at the Auto Star Transport office in Spokane went unreturned.
The name listed on documents as president of the company is Sergey Yesaulenko. A man by that name, reached on his cell phone Monday, said, “That company is closed.” He said he is “not a president.”
“I don’t know what you’re taking about,” he said when asked about the Ithaca crash and the driver, Viacheslav Grychanyi. “I can’t help you. I can’t talk to you because I’m driving. Goodbye.” He then hung up.
The crash into Simeon’s on the Commons at around 4 p.m. Friday killed Amanda Bush, 27, and injured a half dozen others.
Police ticketed him for driving an over-length vehicle and for having inadequate brakes. He apparently tried to avoid construction workers on the Commons, started to turn right onto Aurora Street but was going too fast to make the turn.
While it was operating, Auto Star did not shine brightly in client reviews for the Better Business Bureau in Eastern Washington.
The BBB Business Review awarded the company a dismal “F” — its worst score on a scale of A+ to F — based on 26 customer complaints, most involving delivery issues or problems with service.
“This business has refused to respond to BBB complaints,” the review concludes.