Jason Woodyard: Truck driver found not guilty in fatal crash

Man accused in 21-year-old's death on I-75 in 2013

CINCINNATI -- Semi truck driver Jason Woodyard broke down in tears after being found not guilty in his vehicular homicide trial Thursday.

Woodyard, 42, was cleared of all charges in the death of 21-year-old Zachary Byrd in a multi-vehicle crash on I-75 last September.

"It's been very difficult for both me and my family," Woodyard said. "I haven't been to work in over eight months and I'm just looking forward to getting back to work and taking care of my family."

Byrd's family was also in tears, trying to deal with the fact that no one was found culpable for his death.

"We're devastated. We really are," said Darrell Byrd, Zachary's father. 

"It's been horrible. Not only is our son gone -- our lives -- it's just miserable  How else can you say it? It's hard to even function now."

The wreck happened near Mitchell Avenue on Sept. 29, 2013, just after 5:10 a.m. Police said James Harrison, 21, swerved his Saturn to miss a 2009 Dodge Journey driven by Ashley Kelly, 22. Kelly lost control of her vehicle and struck a barrier wall.

Moments later, Woodyard hit both the Saturn and Journey with his tractor trailer, killing Byrd, who was a passenger in one of the cars.

Police said Woodyard failed to stop, causing Byrd’s death.

But Woodyard's attorney, Kelly Johnson, said multiple factors led to Byrd's death.

"During the whole case we said there were multiple victims and there multiple mistakes that were made -- from the first person that hit the guardrail in the road to the person that stopped in the middle of the highway to Jason striking the cars," Johnson said.

"There were multiple activities involved in this and this is the right verdict."

Woodyard said he was "happy for the not-guilty verdict, but I'm sad for the family and the victims.

"I will remember that night for the rest of my life.

"I'll never forget Zachary Byrd's name for as long as I live, and that's a promise."

A civil suit is pending.

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