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Driver In Hwy Collapse Had Past Arrests

The driver who crashed a tanker loaded with gasoline and brought down a heavily trafficked highway overpass had a history of criminal activity, including drug and burglary arrests, yet was given a commercial trucker's license.

James Mosqueda, 51, 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 stretching 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.

Yet Mosqueda was able to get his commercial truck driver's license because there is nothing in the state's vehicle code that prevents a convicted felon who has served his sentence from working as a truck driver, so long as he has a clear driving record, California Highway Patrol Chief Steve Vaughn said.

The elevated section of highway that funnels traffic from the Bay Bridge to a number of key freeways was destroyed early Sunday after flames from Mosqueda's overturned gasoline truck caused part of that overpass to buckle and collapse onto a roadway below. The driver walked away with only second-degree burns and remained hospitalized Monday in San Francisco.

A predicted traffic nightmare failed to materialize Monday as workers heeded the dire warnings and stayed home, or seized on free public transportation. But transit officials cautioned that the afternoon drive could bring bigger headaches and that it will be months before things return to normal for Bay Area commuters.

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