Brendan Ross ’13 pleaded not guilty on Friday to criminal charges stemming from a fatal U-Haul crash at last November’s Harvard-Yale tailgate.
In New Haven Superior Court, Ross entered a not guilty plea to misdemeanor charges of negligent homicide with a motor vehicle and reckless driving. William Dow ’63, Ross’ attorney, has labeled the state’s case as “mistaken.”
“This is a customary step in the criminal process,” Dow told the New Haven Register. “This will allow the parties to discuss possible resolution of these charges.”
The charges against Ross stem from a fatal vehicle incident on the morning of Nov. 19. A U-Haul driven by Ross swerved and accelerated into Yale Bowl’s D-Lot, killing 30-year-old Nancy Barry of Salem, Mass., and injuring Harvard employee Elizabeth Dernbach and Sarah Short SOM ’13.
If found guilty of negligent homicide with a motor vehicle, Ross could face a maximum penalty of $2,500 and six months imprisonment under Connecticut law.
Ross “applied no brakes [on the U-Haul] as he traveled through the crowd,” according to an arrest warrant application prepared by the New Haven Police Department. The warrant application concluded that Ross “failed to maintain control of his vehicle, and, instead, accelerated into a crowd of people.”
Ross passed a field sobriety test on the scene and was taken to NHPD headquarters on Union Avenue for questioning. Immediately following the incident, the NHPD launched a forensics investigation, which concluded in early April.
While Dow attributed the crash to an “apparent vehicle malfunction” a day after the incident, an NHPD mechanic “found no issues with the gas pedal, cable or throttle body” and said the U-Haul’s brake system was in “good working order.”
Following Ross’ May 7 arraignment, Dow received information from the state about its case and enlisted experts to examine the state’s materials over the next month. Meanwhile, Ross returned home to O’Fallon, Mo., for the summer. He had turned himself in for arrest after completing his Yale spring semester final examinations.
Alongside the criminal charges, Ross faces at least two civil suits. In April, Short filed a civil suit against Ross and the U-Haul company of Connecticut for at least $15,000, claiming that she had sustained several “severe, painful and obvious injuries” from the crash. And Ralph Sbrogna, a Worcester, Mass.-based personal injury lawyer who represents Barry’s mother, Paula St. Pierre, told the News in May that St. Pierre would be filing a civil suit against Ross.
Sbrogna said he and his client will likely wait until the criminal case against Ross is resolved before filing their civil suit, so that they can access the state’s evidence regarding the incident. The nature of their suit will be determined based upon a review of all evidence available after the criminal proceedings against Ross conclude, Sbrogna said.
Ross turned himself in for arrest on May 4 and his next pretrial appearance is slated for Nov. 2.