Investigation continues into fatal crash

UPDATE: 5:40 p.m. A U-Haul truck driven by a Yale undergraduate struck three people, killing one, shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday at the tailgate before the Yale-Harvard football game, New Haven Police Department spokesman David Hartman said.

At 9:49 a.m. on Saturday, a U-Haul swerved and accelerated into the Yale Bowl’s D-Lot, Hartman said, hitting the three victims before crashing into a smaller U-Haul. Nancy Barry, a 30-year-old woman from Salem, Mass., was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital and pronounced dead at 10:16 a.m.

The section of the tailgate where the collision occurred was closed off so an NHPD accident reconstruction team could investigate, Hartman said. Police took Brendan Ross ’13, who was driving the vehicle at the time of the incident, to NHPD headquarters on Union Avenue for questioning. Ross is not currently in custody and has not been charged with anything related to the incident.

When reached by phone Sunday morning, Ross declined to comment. A press release from the NHPD said Ross passed a field sobriety test after the accident. In a Sunday afternoon statement, William Dow ’63, Ross’ New Haven-based lawyer, said Ross and his family expressed their sincere condolences at Barry’s death, adding that it appeared to be the result of a “vehicle malfunction.”

A second victim, 30-year-old Sarah Short SOM ’13, is in a serious but stable condition at Y-NHH. The third victim, Harvard employee Elizabeth Dernbach, was taken to St. Raphael’s Hospital and treated for minor injuries, Hartman confirmed.

Further details on the incident will not be available in the next few days, until the NHPD completes its full forensics investigation, Hartman said.

The U-Haul that struck the victims was bound for a tailgate put on by the fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon. Drew Marconi ’13, a Sig Ep vice president and spokesman, did not confirm that the U-Haul was a Sig Ep vehicle, but said in a statement that the fraternity was cooperating with law enforcement officials as they investigate the incident.

“We’re deeply saddened by the events of today’s tailgate, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families,” Marconi said. “Our leadership board and national representatives are currently working to understand the details of the situation and assess what has transgressed. We hope to know more soon.”

Angela Ramirez ’12, who was roughly 10 feet away from the truck as it was accelerating, said the U-Haul’s approach and the noise of its acceleration caused a commotion in the nearby crowd.

“There was a wave of screams when we saw the truck was going through the crowd, then a lot of ‘Oh my God’ and ‘What the hell is going on?’” Ramirez said. “There was one girl by me who was hyperventilating because she couldn’t find her friend and thought she wasn’t okay. There was another guy who couldn’t find his friend and started crying.”

The driver looked appalled after the incident, Ramirez said, and seemed unsure what had just happened.

Tiffany Ho ’12, who was in line for an identification check when the accident occurred, said she remembered seeing the victims’ bodies on the ground, one of which was not moving.

The victims were quickly surrounded by onlookers, who were “all panicking and really confused,” Paul Robalino ’12 said, explaining that no one realized what had happened.

Police and paramedics responded quickly, Ramirez said. Multiple witnesses said they saw a police officer perform CPR on one of the victims for 10 minutes.

Ramirez said the police told tailgaters to go to the other side of the lot if they wanted to enter the tailgate grounds, and asked onlookers to leave when they began to place the victims in ambulances.

“Some people were crying, some people were in such shock they didn’t move anywhere, but most people went to the other side to get into the tailgate,” Ramirez said.

After ambulances took the victims to the hospital, those at the tailgate were unsure what to do, Ho said, adding that many students did not feel comfortable continuing to party after the incident.

“Pretty immediately the cops came and they put yellow tape all around the area,” Robalino said. “For a while we were all like ‘This is really uncomfortable, we can’t keep drinking or eating because that would be really inappropriate.’”

But as conflicting reports of the incident spread among students and alumni, the tailgate continued throughout the morning largely uninterrupted. The music stopped after the crash, but as rumors spread that the injuries were not serious, the music and partying resumed, Robalino said.

In a Saturday afternoon statement, Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said the University “will be undertaking a full review of the policies and regulations relating to tail-gating before athletics events.”

“Our efforts now focus on providing any support needed to the members of our community and to our many guests from Cambridge and elsewhere,” Conroy wrote in the statement.

At the game, action halted and the crowd hushed at halftime as spectators in the Yale Bowl stopped for a moment of silence. The announcer, Mark Ryba, delivered a statement from the University confirming that one victim had died and two were injured in the crash, and offering condolences to those involved.


  • ForeverYale

    It’s really sickening that Yale/YPD/NHPD released his name. Reading the comments on any national news site, you can see that some people are out with a mob and a pitchfork against one of the nicest people at Yale. Ask anyone who knows him, and they will undoubtedly tell you he is one of the best people they know — and they would have told you that if you asked them a week ago, too.

    Whoever made the decision to release his name: don’t you think he has enough to deal with already? Can you imagine the weight of this ACCIDENT on your conscience? His life is already changed forever. Why did you need to make it even worse?

    • jinjdkla


    • jpressyale

      I couldn’t agree more, ForeverYale

    • ygrd

      It is not unusual for the names of those involved in fatal auto accidents to be reported by the media. Read some news stories of this sort – it’s the norm rather than the exception. I see no reason why this person, innocent or not, should receive special treatment.

      • alphabetical

        this wasn’t just any auto accident. it was one that had enormous potential to be misconstrued and distorted by sensationalist and irresponsible journalists, which it clearly already has been. the police therefore should have more carefully considered releasing his name ESPECIALLY given his innocence. the benefits of reporting his name (and what are they, exactly?) don’t seem to outweigh the impact identifying him will have on his future and his life.

        • Ciarrai

          Talk about an elevated sense of the importance of the privilege of being a Yale student. It just leaps out of the first sentence. Right, it wasn’t “just any auto accident.” Someone lost their life. Why? Fundamentally, it is the fault of the over-the-top mentality of the sacred “tailgate.” The truck that Brendan Ross ’13 was driving carried kegs of beer? For the ridiculous, hyped-up Yale-Harvard football game. The Game. This frivilous fare resulted in the death of a woman. Was it worth it? BTW, alphabetical, Brendan Ross is far from “innocent” and it’s yet to be detemined whether he is not guilty. Finally, to tell you the truth, it’s the impact on Nancy Barry’s family and friends that are most critical at this point. Brendan Ross will recover in time from this, but the family of Nancy Barry may never get over her death.

    • yalieinsider

      If it involved anyone else but a student/friend, you’d be up in arms demanding to know the name of the person who did it. Freedom of information. It’s going to get out.

      • anon

        “did it” is a heavy phrase. All signs point to the fact that this kid didn’t “do” anything.

    • anon12

      From what is said in this article, it looks like his name was known by the media before being officially released:

    • handsomedan

      100% agreed

    • River_Tam

      This is a public investigation. The only time information should be withheld from the public when it comes to a public investigations is if the information being released would compromise the investigation.

      In other words: don’t blame the police for a commitment to transparency. The alternative is a system of justice in which there is decreased media scrutiny and the accused have a diminished ability to clear their name in the court of public opinion.

      TLDR: Who cares what “comments on any national news site” says? It’s a fact that 100% of people who comment on news articles on the internet are idiots.

      • Abdelnoir

        Including you RT.

        • River_Tam

          Yes, I did make that comment with full self-awareness.

  • kingsofyale2

    these frat kids are so inconsiderate; i lived next to the frat house across the yale gym and these kids would kick the trash bins of the neighbors at night. i never understood it. hopefully he really wasn’t trying to “give the victims a lesson”. sad all around, but these frat kids scare me. soon they’ll be preaching to the rest of us about personal responsibility when mom and dad finds them a job on “you know where”.

    • jpressyale

      GET OVER YOURSELF. This was a tragic accident and has nothing to do with “frat kids.”

    • uncommons

      i find this incredibly offensive and irrelevant to the conversation.

    • murphytemple

      This doesn’t have anything to do with “frat kids.” No one ever said he was trying to “give the victims a lesson”; if you read the article above you would see that he was sober and that it’s currently being attributed to a vehicle malfunction. This could have happened to any driver, fraternity brother or otherwise — if this had been, say, a malfunctioning ambulance, would you still be demonizing its driver by implication?

    • ycollege14

      Shut up. Brendan is one of the nicest, most considerate people I’ve met at Yale. Your overgeneralizing stereotypes help no one and make you sound incredibly ignorant.

    • Yale12

      What is wrong with you? This is literally the most demented, ignorant post I have ever read on the YDN, and that’s saying a lot. How can you possibly think that this kid would be trying to “give the victims a lesson”? WTF does that even mean? How xan you be so deranged as to accuse somebody of murder just because somebody else kicked over your trash cans?

      • kingsofyale2

        sorry, the truth… nice guy is a frat kid, his frat is made up of brats. i know because i lived next to them. let the victim rest in peace.

        • anonymous12

          FYI, the “frat kids” who live by the gym are in a different fraternity entirely, not that your comments would be relevant or appropriate even if you were thinking of the right group of people. I’m with the other commenters who have replied.

        • Yale12

          It’s not remotely the truth. You have absolutely no evidence for your horrendously offensive claim that this kid *murdered* somebody other than the fact that some different boys from an entirely different frat kicked over your trash cans. Even if Brendan had kicked over your trashcans personally (which I can assure you, he did not) it would still be equally ridiculous to suggest he purposefully mowed down a woman to “give them a lesson.” You’re clearly delusional.

          • kingsofyale2

            dude, human lives have been lost here. i was cautious in my statements. you haven’t been. you weren’t in the car.
            i still don’t understand why suburban kids feel comfortable kicking trash bins in relatively lower income neighborhoods with fewer resources for cleaning up after them. it annoys me to no end. sorry

          • anonymous12

            How exactly would you say that you were “cautious in your statements?”

          • kingsofyale2

            dude, i was upset because it’s such as waste of human life. i never said he committed a crime, but knowing how inconsiderate these drunk frat kids can be i have to wonder…

          • anonymous12

            No one’s arguing with you that it’s a terrible loss of life, but your suggestion — that the driver acted maliciously or was trying to “give the women a lesson” — was completely unfair and inappropriate. Not only were you stereotyping an entire group of people, but you were incorrectly placing the driver in that group when he doesn’t even belong to that fraternity and when he was completely sober.

          • kingsofyale2

            ok, you win.if only u’d speak up this passionately when your buddies do the wrong thing

          • anonymous12

            I’m not defending the kids who live by the gym, and I wouldn’t call any of them my buddies. I don’t even know the driver, either, though from what I hear he’s a great kid. I just don’t think you should be making such serious accusations and claims on grounds that are completely irrelevant to the tragic matter at hand.

  • handsomedan

    brendan is legitimately one of the nicest people at yale and regardless of whether or not the national media already published his name, the YDN (as a campus newspaper FOR its students) should know better than to release it. this is extremely disappointing
    Brendan is a great kid and I wish him all the best in what must be a very traumatic moment in his life

    • weee

      I agree completely. Brendan is really one of the nicest and most responsible people I know. My thoughts are with all those involved in what appears to be a very unfortunate accident.

  • anonymousyalie8879

    I agree that it sucks for him, but he’s not a minor. These are facts and it’s completely fair for journalists to publish his name. You may not like it but that’s the truth.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “Ross is not currently in custody and has not been charged with anything related to the incident.”

  • mynameisboxxy

    The New York Times has published Brenden Ross’s name already. So, what’s stopping the YDN from doing so?
    With that said, this is a real tragedy.

  • yalieinsider

    I think uhauls should not be allowed in the lots. Moving vehicles and masses of students wanting to party don’t mix very well. Plus from being there, students urinating between the trucks and jumping on top is calling for more trouble. I think allowing vendors to serve the alcohol would be better way of regulating. Just like at Moehegan Sun. One drink at a time and cut off if you seem intoxicated. Plus it will help local vendors with income. Everyone wins.

  • SY10

    I find the reactions on these comment pages to the various articles about this tragedy rather disturbing. Most people here seem more interested in complaining about the privacy of the driver being violated or worse yet, how this will affect whether they are allowed to tailgate at future Games (this is more apparent in the comment threads to other articles) than in the fact that a woman died. Is this really how you would all be reacting if the victim had been one of your classmates, instead of the driver?
    My sincere condolences to the family of the victim, and best wishes for recovery to the injured.

    • mulberryfield

      Totally. I love how people are getting all upset and saying that the media is sensationalizing this story. A fraternity member drove a truck full of kegs into the most ridiculous tailgating party on earth. That story pretty much sensationalizes itself. I can’t believe college students expect the YDN- the best local news source around- to sugar coat stories that are unflattering towards Yale. That wouldn’t be news- that would be propaganda. It seems very likely that the truck did in fact malfunction. However that is not a fact yet. If some of the people posting here had their way there would be no investigation of this accident because the kid said it was the truck’s fault. Ever drive a truck when you aren’t used to it, or for that matter any car that isn’t your own? Its not easy, and its hard to control the acceleration. That being said the people the local UHaul are in fact completely incompetent and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if that truck was faulty.

  • CharlieWalls

    Mr. Ross was ‘doing’ something. He was driving a 7,800 lb truck on a grass area covered with people partying. He was not the only one. A strange combination to say the least. An “accident” waiting to happen. Is a U-Haul truck the new limo these days? Very sad all around, but Mr. Ross was the driver and one person was killed. Perfectly fair news, in the real world.

  • River_Tam

    My prayers are with the family of Ms. Barry and with Ms. Short and her family.

    Mr. Ross will be fine, and it’s a bit appalling to see the myopia of Yalies on display here as they fret over whether it was proper to release his name (it was, both legally and ethically) rather than on the tragic death of a young woman. It appears (at least at first glance) he did nothing wrong.

    No one who saw it happen would be concerned foremost with Mr. Ross’s reputation. It was truly sickening to behold.

    • Yale12

      This article is about the “investigation” – ie, the one into Mr Ross – not about the actual death. Plenty of people left condolences on the initial article, but it makes sense that people would comment primarily about the investigation on an article about the investigation.

  • Yokel

    I found it profoundly disturbing that the e-mail to the Yale community from Linda Lorimer went out of its way to assure us that the person who was killed was “not a Yale student or a member of the Yale community.” As if that really matters…pretty disgusting.

    • alphabetical

      of course it matters. if it was a member of the yale community, it would obviously have a much greater impact on the campus because many more people would know/live/work with her and would be affected by her death. i don’t think her intent was to downplay the tragedy in any way but just to clarify the situation by informing us that the victim was not somebody we knew.

    • lakia

      Parents all over the country were probably wondering/worried, as well. I doubt there was any effort to minimize, only clarify.

  • alveston

    I am truly shocked that people are posting that they are upset that the driver’s name was released, how egocentric can you be, all thoughts should be with the victims and the biggest liability of an ivy league education is that you feell that privilege entitles you to different treatment. Mr. Ross was driving a huge truck, it used to be you could not rent one if you were over 25, and by the way I doubt it malfunctioned, accidents happen to good people, but I would hope that my sons would not drive u-hauls full of kegs, I can only hope. I also hope that the Yale community learns from this accident. What happened to Mr. Ross could happen to anyone, but what he makes of the accident will show who he is, blaming the truck is not a good start. Yale has had three deaths that have made national news in the last three years, it is not good.

    • River_Tam

      > What happened to Mr. Ross could happen to anyone, but what he makes of the accident will show who he is, blaming the truck is not a good start.

      Blaming the truck is only not a good start if it didn’t malfunction. I’m sure the investigators will take a look at the truck and determine what happened.

    • Yale12

      What if the truck actually did malfunction? You’ll look like an ass then, won’t you?

    • yalie13

      alveston, you should really put yourself in the driver’s shoes and show some compassion for god’s sake. Statements like these drive good kids suicidal. There were many victims in this tragedy. Whether it’s the truck’s fault or whether it’s the driver’s fault will not change what has been done. There was no malice and the fact that you bring up the point that the u-haul was full of kegs is just a deliberate and irrelevant character-attack.

      This tragedy is terrible for everyone. Just imagine the intense legal fees this kids family has to face that will likely leave them broke. Imagine the trauma this kid has to face for the rest of this life. He could have been any of us. Imagine the victim who was suddenly killed who woke up that morning expecting an ordinary day and ended in the wrong place at the wrong time. She could have been any of us.

      And by the way, mentioning that Yale has had three deaths in the last three years as if to tie them together and insinuate an administrative error is also disingenuous. These tragic accidents are byproducts of stochastic, undeterministic, freak events.

      • River_Tam

        > Statements like these drive good kids suicidal.

        Oh give me a fcking break. I don’t agree with what alveston said, but… really?

        • yalie13

          Don’t be quick to belittle mental health.

          This kid killed someone and on top of that he’s going to face trash from all directions for it. That’s pretty heavy stuff. I’d admit that if I was in that situation, this trauma could leave me with suicidal thoughts.

        • yalie13

          Don’t be so quick to belittle mental health.

          This kid killed someone. That’s heavy stuff. The demonization he’s facing only compounds the trauma. I’d admit that if I was cursed to be in his situation, I could easily be having suicidal thoughts. It’s hard to imagine everything this kid must be going through.

  • citizen5

    I am in utter shock that he has not been charged by the police. I was there in the group waiting to enter the tailgate zone where (about 20-30 people) were getting their ids checked. The van turned towards us before accelerating to the point where we had to get out of the way. I looked at the van coming towards me and I distinctly remember him having a huge smile. The other two of his friends were also laughing and i got a sick feeling in my stomach that something was wrong. Before I new it, it was all over.

    Im honestly not trying to stir things up here. Im just saying how I saw it. Its also how my other 2 friends saw it also. I can see why it could have been a malfunction as there were no skid marks (which would suggest the van breaked). However, I feel very strongly that he, even though he was not intoxicated, was engaged in reckless driving and was knowledgable that there was a problem with the van. Under such circumstance- it would be manslaughter.

    I feel so awful for the people who have been affected by this horrible tragedy and I offer my condolences. Its a very sad reality that ones innocent life can be taken away at any given time and such event should make us all appreciate the very gift of life.

    Even though i have traveled home now, I am willing to testify against him or respond to anyone with further queries.

    A little nervous to put my email or number down so just pm me.

    • chandlerpv

      your post here would almost automatically exclude you from ever testifying in court. In fact, I’m hoping you don’t because you clearly have a emotional bias having seen the incident. What makes you able to distinguish a smile from a grimace given your distance, the windshield you had to look through, and withstanding your own fear and trauma. Maybe he didn’t realize something was wrong and was laughing before the incident? Yeah, offer your condolences, but I find it hard to believe you have any testimony that would be valuable for this case, aside from contaminating genuine testimony with conjecture and emotional response. As a witness, you have the responsibility to separate observation and facts from the catharsis you seek. Sometimes accidents do happen, it sucks, but thats life. to suggest that this kid drove through a crowd of people, sober, with a huge smile on his face and recklessly mowed down a group of people is a big leap. Your condolences to the victims are greatly appreciated, by everyone on this thread, but please be a respectful and responsible witness. You don’t do anyone, any good, by being problematic–not even the victim or family. I hope we get an honest and accurate investigation so that we can all find the closure that we need. This has been very tragic for those involved, the community, Yale, and those who are following this story.

      • chandlerpv

        Also, “I am willing to testify against him” seems a little vengeful. Who are you trying to do justice for, those involved, or yourself?

  • The Anti-Yale

    “I saw it. Its also how my other 2 friends saw it also. I can see why it could have been a malfunction as there were no skid marks (which would suggest the van breaked). However, I feel very strongly that he, even though he was not intoxicated, was engaged in reckless driving and was knowledgable that there was a problem with the van.

    Conjecture. This is what testimony under oath and cross examination are designed to exclude.

  • alveston

    Those of you who are supporting Mr. Ross so strongly are not helping his case, let the victims be buried and you will have more credibility

  • alveston

    Also not being able to find the brake pedal in a truck you are not used to driving when you are 21 does not necessarily mean malfunction….

  • The Anti-Yale

    “Also not being able to find the brake pedal in a truck you are not used to driving when you are 21 does not necessarily mean malfunction…”

    Again, conjecture.

  • citizen5

    What is this? some kind of English class?

    Yes of course I have an emotional bias- so does everyone there who witnessed it. Im not saying that I think he should go to jail or anything.. im just shocked that he had not been retained for questioning and the police were so quick to conclude that it was a vehicle malfunction/he was not intoxicated meaning that he is absolutely under no fault>? Having Mr William F. Dow III as his lawyer probably helped in that matter. (Recognized as one of the best criminal defense lawyers in America for 15 years in a row).

    I didn’t mean for my testify comment to be understood as if I am against him- all i mean is I would be available to tell people how I saw it.

    And yes you also evidently have an emotional bias- theantiyale: being his professor, chandlerprv: a friend.

    • chandlerpv

      I’ve actually never met the kid. But thanks…

  • The Anti-Yale

    I am not his professor. I am a 67-year old alumnus of the Divinity School (M. Div. ’80). My only bias is to slow a rush to judgment. That’s what Amrican justice seeks to accomplish.

    • JE14

      This might well be the first thread where I agree with everything you say.

    • citizen5

      Ok I appreciate that. But can you not see that my comment is also against the quick rush to judgement that you speak of. I have no doubt that the police will do their due diligence and we will soon get some answers.

      • anon

        If you’re ready to testify “against” him, rather than wait to see what happens and decide if you should testify at all (much less in a verdict-seeking manner), it seems you’ve already quite quickly rushed to judge.

  • mulberryfield

    BTW saying that the truck malfunctioned is also conjecture. We are neither in a court of law nor taking a written exam here. This is a freakin comment board for Christ’s sake.People go on here and they voice their opinion. The reason why this is a national news story is that it is horrible that someone was killed by a truck full of kegs during a huge party. Friends of the driver saying he is a nice person does not cancel out the fact that people want to know what happened and not what he said happened. No one is being mean to him for wanting to know that, in fact they are ultimately concerned about the person who DIED and whether that person is going to get justice.

    • CrazyBus

      However, the truck malfunction conjecture is one that is “innocent until proven guilty”

  • The Anti-Yale

    “does not cancel out the fact that people want to know what happened and not what he said happened”
    The Lu/Sisgoreo article and its post from Attorney Johnson does and excellent job of attempting to untangle what happened from what people THINK happened.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “does not cancel out the fact that people want to know what happened and not what he said happened”
    The Lu/Sisgoreo article and its post from Attorney Johnson does an excellent job of attempting to untangle what happened from what people THINK happened.

  • connman250

    I heard accounts of people at the scene saying that they heard the truck’s engine racing just before it started to move. This would indicate that the gas pedel was engaged to a high RPM before he put it into gear.

    We cannot always be paranoid about everything, but when in large crowds I try to keep a resonable space from any congestion of people and traffic, if possible.

  • observer

    (From a story in today’s Boston Globe)

    “In recent years, Harvard has prohibited U-Hauls, RVs, Winnebagos, and trucks in any parking facility and limited tailgating to two hours before and one hour after each day game. Pregame tailgating ends at kickoff. Rules also dictate the type and size of grills allowed and outline proper vehicle parking.

    With regard to alcohol, Harvard rules state: “Beer kegs and items that promote rapid consumption of alcohol are not permitted at any University athletic function or event. No individual or group may transport a keg to a University athletic event.’’

    In 2007, the Yale Daily News reported that the university was “leaning toward’’ prohibiting U-Hauls and other trucks from tailgating out of safety concerns. Student groups objected to the ban because U-Hauls can transport kegs, tables, coolers, grills, and food. The students’ position eventually won over administrators.

    Campus geography also shapes the different tailgating cultures at Harvard and Yale. Harvard student housing, Final Clubs, and Harvard Square are all a short walk over the Charles River from Harvard Stadium. All of this gives students and alumni more convenient options and makes tailgating less of a production.

    The Yale Bowl, though, is approximately 1.5 miles from the main Yale campus, creating a long, often cold walk on football Saturdays. And vehicle traffic to the Yale Bowl can be particularly congested, prompting fans to arrive early and stick around.

    After last Saturday’s accident, Yale tailgating policies undoubtedly will change before The Game returns in 2013, and it’s likely that U-Hauls will be banned.”

  • connman250

    As usual, it only takes one incident like this to spoil the fun for everyone.

    • observer

      A very annoying “incident” indeed.

  • inthemix

    Is no one bothered by the repeated use, by the media and people on these posts, of the terms “packed”, “loaded” “filled” to describe the number of kegs within the transport bay of the U-Haul ? I was at the scene when the door opened there were a less than a handful. The images painted by people on these posts and the media conjure up a number closer to an absurd 30!

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