By Henry K. Lee
The San Francisco Chronicle, JUNE 3, 1995
A milk truck driver was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing five people when he barreled through a freeway work crew in San Leandro last year while under the influence of drugs.
George Schaapman, 38, of Manteca, sat impassively as he was sentenced yesterday in Alameda County Superior Court in Oakland.
On the morning of March 27, 1994, Schaapman fell asleep at the wheel of his 40-ton truck, plowing into a pickup, a Caltrans van and bus before veering toward a sound wall on Interstate 880.
Five people, including a 9-year- old girl, were killed, and 14 others were injured in the crash - one of the worst East Bay traffic accidents in recent memory. The victims were inside vehicles or on the road picking up trash.
Schaapman took Valium the night before the crash, did two lines of methamphetamine before his shift began at 3 a.m., then smoked marijuana to keep from getting "too jittery" while driving for a fourth straight day, court records show.
He thought of calling in sick, but felt pressured to make it to his destination on time, said his attorney, Kimberly Kupferer. He is "very remorseful for his actions" and will regret it for the rest of his life, Kupferer told Judge Stanley Golde.
In April, Schaapman pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and driving under the influence. Yesterday, Golde ordered Schaapman to serve 10 years and eight months in state prison.
He may be eligible for parole in five years, which angered the family of Bill Deane, 20, of Hayward, a member of the work crew who died in the crash. Also killed was Deane's 9-year-old niece, Talena Allonby, who was waiting in the pickup truck to tell Deane that his girlfriend, Teresa Coelho, was about to give birth.
After the sentencing, Coelho, 20, said, "No amount of time is going to pay for what he did."