Ross ’13 pleads not guilty

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.


  • The Anti-Yale
  • The Anti-Yale

    This link above is a photo of the type of accelerator pedal I used in a U-haul truck.

    Notice that you push on it with your foot the same way you do a brake pedal. It also has a great deal of tension to it which makes driving, not the easy flex of the foot one has in every other accelerator pedal I have ever used in my life, but a tense pushing down, requiring a holding of the foot in an awkward kind of suspension.

    Here is my point: in a moment of panic, one might jam one’s foot down the way one does on a brake pedal as a reflex.

    Since one’s foot is already PRESSING this pedal rather than FLEXING it, one could very easily become confused and automatically continue the jamming motion, thereby accelerating instead of braking.

    I am not hypothesizing that this is what actually happened to Mr. Ross ’13 who has acted honorably from the instant he was aware of the circumstances he was in.

    HOWEVER, I AM HYPOTHESIZING that this is what could happen to anyone who has used a FLEXING FOOT MOTION THOUSANDS OF TIMES TO ACCELERATE and a

    I found it very disconcerting as a U-haul renter.

    I wish Mr. Ross well, and commend him on his honorable carriage throughout in this heartbreaking situation for many people.

    Paul D. Keane

    M. Div. ’80

  • CharlieWalls

    Many things confuse theantiyale, and many brands of automobiles use accelerator pedals articulated from above rather than from the floor. The “arrest warrant application” quoted in this article is telling information.

  • The Anti-Yale

    I truth;you speak yours. What I
    I experienced in that uhaul is absolutely consistent with someone who mistakenly accelerates when intending to brake.

  • sonofmory

    as usual, it is all about PK

    • LtwLimulus90

      It is extremely natural to relate a topic of conversation to one’s own experiences in order to provide some insight. Everyone does it. Get over yourself

  • The Anti-Yale

    It is unseemly to turn an attempt to offer a supportive perspective in a heartbreaking situation into a personality debate.

  • _1_Y_1_

    It’s pretty depressing when a YDN reporter can’t even be bothered to call up Willy Dow and aggregates a story from the New Haven Independent. I mean, seriously… Total lack of effort.

  • ms2676

    I could care less what PK experienced a number of years ago.

    The fact is, a young man has a future that could be in jeopardy. He passed a field test thank goodmess. His issue is, he just had no experience driving a large truck, and unfortunately, he was driving in an area that was crowded, and he lost control of the truck.

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