Attorney William Dow ’63 appeared in New Haven Superior Court Thursday to continue working with judicial officials to resolve charges of reckless driving and negligent homicide against his client Brendan Ross ’13, who drove the U-Haul truck involved in a fatal crash at the 2011 Yale-Harvard tailgate.
Ross, who was not present for the Thursday pretrial hearing because he was taking a final exam, pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges in September. The court ordered Ross to report back on Jan. 24 when his attorneys may be able to present a resolution that would prevent the case from going to trial.
Ross’s negligent homicide charge disqualifies him from entering accelerated rehabilitation, a probationary program that would allow him to maintain a clean record. But his attorneys are working to strike a deal with the state that would revise the charges and make him eligible for the program.
Dow declined to comment on the nature of his negotiations with state judicial officials and the likelihood of Ross entering accelerated rehabilitation.
“You look to get the best result for your client,” Dow said.
The U-Haul driven by Ross crashed in the Yale Bowl’s D-lot before the Yale-Harvard football game on Nov. 19, 2011, killing 30-year-old Nancy Barry of Salem, Mass. and injuring Harvard employee Elizabeth Dernbach and Sarah Short SOM ’13.
Ross, who passed a field sobriety test at the scene of the accident, turned himself in for arrest last May after the New Haven Police Department completed its forensics investigation in early April and secured a warrant for his arrest. He was released with a written agreement to return to court.
The arrest warrant application prepared by the NHPD states that Ross “applied no brakes [on the U-Haul] as he traveled through the crowd,” concluding that he “failed to maintain control of his vehicle, and, instead, accelerated into a crowd of people.” While Dow has attributed the crash to a vehicle malfunction, an NHPD mechanic found no problems with the U-Haul’s brake system.
Ross could face a maximum penalty of $2,500 and six months imprisonment under Connecticut law if the case goes to trial and he is found guilty of negligent homicide. He will also likely face two civil suits: Short filed a suit for at least $15,000 in April, and Barry’s mother, Paula St. Pierre, plans to file a suit after criminal proceedings conclude, Ralph Sbrogna, her Worcester, Mass.-based personal injury lawyer, told the News last May.
In response to last year’s crash, Yale implemented tailgating regulations banning beer kegs and U-Hauls, containing tailgates to a “student tailgate village” zone that would close at the start of the game and requiring all stands be set up before 8:30 a.m.