Armed with damning court records, PETA sent a letter this morning to Kenneth M. Sullivan, CEO of Smithfield Foods, Inc., urging the company not to employ or contract with any drivers who have a record of repeated driving-related offenses or have been found to be at fault in any crash. PETA’s request follows the January 10 crash of a truck in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, which led to at least 10 pigs’ deaths and resulted in reckless driving charges for driver Brian D. Crockett of Franklin.
In its letter, PETA points out that such crashes have left dead pigs’ shredded remains on the side of highways, while terrified survivors have been dragged by the ears and electroshocked to force them onto slaughterhouse-bound replacement trucks. Over just the last five years, Crockett has been convicted of nine driving-related crimes and infractions in local courts, including the following:
- November 2017: Convicted of failing to have a vehicle inspected
- August 2015: Charged with traveling at 70 mph in a 55-mph zone
- August 2014: Found guilty of using defective equipment on a motor vehicle
- February 2014: Charged with traveling at 74 mph in a 60-mph zone
- June 2013: Convicted of driving without a license
“A 20-minute search was all that it took to find this driver’s criminal records, yet Smithfield or its contractor put him behind the wheel and at least 10 pigs died gruesomely as a result,” says PETA Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “PETA is calling on Smithfield to take simple steps to screen its truckers and keep dangerous drivers away from trailers filled with scores of live animals.”
In 2010, PETA found that another driver who crashed while hauling pigs for Smithfield’s subsidiary Murphy-Brown, LLC, had crashed a truck in North Carolina just three months earlier while hauling 46 cows and had been previously cited and fined for speeding and failing to obey a traffic signal. In 2006, after PETA documented that pigs suffered in the aftermath of six other crashes of Smithfield-bound trucks in southeastern Virginia, the company improved its accident-response plan.