Tailgate victim’s estate sues University, Sig Ep
Sixteen months after a fatal crash at the 2011 Yale-Harvard game left a Massachusetts woman dead, the victim’s estate has filed a negligence suit against the University, the city of New Haven, Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity and others.
Nancy Barry, a 30-year-old woman from Massachusetts, died after she was struck by a U-Haul truck during the tailgate before the Yale-Harvard football game on Nov. 19, 2011. Brendan Ross ’13 was driving the rented U-Haul into the tailgate area assigned to the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, when the vehicle accelerated and swerved into the Yale Bowl’s D-Lot around 9:39 a.m., killing Barry and injuring Sarah Short SOM ’13 and Harvard employee Elizabeth Dernbach.
Paul T. Edwards, an attorney representing Barry’s estate, filed a lawsuit with the New Haven Superior Court today seeking charges against Ross, the U-Haul Company of Connecticut, Yale University, the city of New Haven and others for failing to take all appropriate safety measures.
The crash “was the result of an accumulation of incredibly bad decisions by several parties,” according to a press release on the suit.
“Yale University permitted and encouraged organizations to rent large box truck to bring to a designated section of the Yale Bowl parking lot to host their alcohol-fueled tailgate parties,” Edwards said in the press release.
The list of defendants also include the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, Inc., another student who rented the U-Haul and Contemporary Services Corporation, the company that Yale hired to provide security and crowd management services at the tailgate area.
Ross had faced charges of negligent homicide with a motor vehicle and reckless driving following the crash, but in February, he was granted accelerated rehabilitation, a program that offers first-time offenders a path to a clean record upon successful completion of probation. Under the plea deal, his charges were revised to reckless driving and reckless endangerment.
Ross, who passed a field sobriety test at the scene of the accident, will have to complete a total of 400 hours of community service.
In response to last year’s crash, Yale tightened its tailgating regulations, banning beer kegs and U-Hauls and containing tailgates to a “student tailgate village” zone that would be set up before 8:30 a.m. and close at the start of football games.