Tanker driver has criminal past

The tanker driver whose accident is expected to wreak havoc on the East Bay-San Francisco commute for months to come — and who has a criminal history including a nearly three-year stint in prison — is likely to face a simple citation or a misdemeanor for his involvement in the collapse and closure of sections of the MacArthur Maze.

Early California Highway Patrol reports suggest James Mosqueda, 51, may have been speeding, but there is no evidence that he was driving under the influence. The speed limit on the portion of the Maze he was driving is 50 miles an hour.

Only Mosqueda was injured in the gasoline tanker accident — he suffered second-degree burns to his hands, arms and face.

“Take away the big dramatics, and we’re talking about a property-damage-only collision,” said Mike Wright, officer with the CHP. Such accidents warrant no more than a citation, he added.

“If someone gets hurt or dies, you can look at a felony, but we’re not looking at that here,” Wright said.

Mosqueda served two years and eight months in prison following a 1996 arrest for heroin possession in Sacramento County, court records show. His criminal rap sheet, which stretches back to 1981, includes arrests for burglary, felony drug charges and possession of stolen property, according to the California Department of Corrections and the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.

The Woodland resident has been driving trucks for South San Francisco-based Sabek Transportation for 10 months. He was able to obtain his commercial trucker’s license despite a history of criminal activity because the California Vehicle Code does not prevent a convicted felon who has served his sentence from working as a truck driver as long as he has a clear driving record, CHP Chief Steve Vaughn said.

After the accident, Mosqueda walked more than a mile to a gas station on Grand Avenue, where he flagged down a taxi and was driven to Kaiser Hospital in Oakland. He was later transferred to St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco. He remains in stable condition.

Mosqueda’s family released a statement Monday, saying they “are grateful that no one else was hurt and thank God that James is on the road to recovery.”

Caltrans officials could not be reached to determine whether they might hold Mosqueda or Sabek Transportation responsible for damage caused in Sunday’s crash.

Officials with Sabek did not return calls for comment Monday.

This is not Sabek’s first tanker accident in the Bay Area. In June of 2006, a Sabek truck overturned on the freeway connector from westbound I-780 to eastbound I-80 in Vallejo, dumping 4,500 gallons of diesel fuel onto the roadway and into nearby Vallejo Creek, according to a U.S. Coast Guard report.

Although Sabek Transportation assumed responsibility for the creek cleanup, it’s unknown whether the Coast Guard filed charges against the company for the spill, a violation of federal law, according to Dana Michaels, spokeswoman with the California Department of Fish and Game.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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