A truck driver charged with murder and other counts for a deadly crash in La Canada Flintridge that killed a 12-year-old girl and her father testified Friday that he was desperate and in a panic when the 25-ton vehicle’s brakes failed.
Marcos B. Costa told a Pasadena Superior Court jury that he tried “with all my strength that I had” to stop the vehicle as it went faster and faster down Angeles Crest Highway.
“The truck wouldn’t stop whatsoever,” the 46-year-old from the Boston area said through a Portuguese interpreter. Costa said he told his companion, who had been driving the car-hauling truck earlier, that they had no brakes.
“Oh my God, let’s pray so this truck will start having brakes again,” he said of his conversation with his fellow truck driver. “I’m trying to brake, but the truck is getting more and more speed … I was just asking God to help me.”
Costa is charged with two counts each of murder and gross vehicular manslaughter and three counts of reckless driving causing injury for the April 1, 2009, collision.
In his second day on the stand, Costa said he had used all of his strength to try to apply the vehicle’s brakes.
“I was desperate. I was in a panic. I didn’t know what to do,” he said — words he repeatedly echoed as he was asked about the time before the vehicle plowed into a sedan carrying 12-year-old Angelina Posca and her 58-year-old father, Angel Jorge Posca, both of Palmdale.
The big rig struck Posca’s sedan, pushed it along the roadway and struck several other cars before the truck slammed into a bookstore at Angeles Crest Highway and Foothill Boulevard.
As defense attorney Edward Murphy played footage that was taken later of a different vehicle going down the curvy mountain road, Costa said that he was trying to avoid hitting anyone as the downhill grade became steeper and steeper.
Costa said he kept hoping the whole time that the next curve might have a ramp that would enable him to make an emergency stop.
Costa testified that he first noticed the braking problem after slowing down to allow a lot of other motorists behind him to pass.
Costa testified that he had earlier thrown three gallons of water on the tire after stopping in a parking lot and seeing smoke come out of one of the wheels.
“Were you having any trouble controlling your truck?” Costa’s attorney asked him about the truck’s travel along Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, before the vehicle got on to Angeles Crest Highway.
“No, it was everything normal,” said Costa, who came to the United States from Brazil just over two decades ago.
Costa is expected to continue his testimony Monday.
In opening statements last month, Deputy District Attorney Carolina Lugo told jurors that an off-duty firefighter hailed the truck and warned him that there was smoke coming from the back of the vehicle. The firefighter warned Costa to turn around and go back, according to the prosecutor.
Costa testified that he did not understand everything the firefighter was saying, but said he didn’t recall being told anything about the truck’s brakes, the type of road he would face ahead or a warning to turn back around.
Costa’s attorney told jurors last month in his opening statement that his client or the truck’s other driver inspected the vehicle’s brakes daily, and that the brakes were inspected by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration “four days before the horrible nightmare that happened.”
Testimony is expected to conclude next week, with closing arguments expected next Friday.