FARMINGTON — A Dexter man who was the driver of a tractor-trailer that overturned on routes 2 and 27 in Farmington and killed a 12-year-old Connecticut girl in 2011 was ordered Friday to pay a $1,500 fine and have his licensed suspended for three years.
At the most, the truck was going 7 mph over the 30-mph speed limit, according to investigators.
Charles H. Willey, 54, was cited for a civil violation of causing death of a person while committing a traffic infraction in the fatal accident.
The state brought no criminal charges against the driver because there was no finding of negligence or intention to cause the accident.
Willey's license was suspended by the state administratively for three years on April 30 of this year, his attorney Thomas Marjerison said.
Friday's suspension will run concurrent with the administrative suspension.
Willey had asked for a jury trial but it was denied by the court because trials are not held on this type of civil violation.
Assistant District Attorney James Andrews said that Willey was driving the tractor-trailer hauling sawdust and was making the sweeping turn to merge onto Hill Street, also known as routes 2 and 27 from Main Street, also known as routes 4 and 27. The trailer of the truck tipped over into the highway. At the time, a rented passenger van carrying campers from a YMCA in Connecticut was stopped in traffic in the opposite lane waiting to turn on to Route 4.
When the trailer tipped it hit the driver's side rear end of the van where Tess Meisel of Westport, Conn., was seated, Andrews said.
Meisel was killed instantly, according to previous police statements. Three others in the van were also injured.
Andrews said he went to the scene.
Initially, the reconstructive investigation determined Willey traveling 11 mph over the speed limit, Andrews said. Further investigation and the black box from the truck showed that the truck only exceeded the speed limit by 7 mph. There was no alcohol or drugs involved, he said.
The load was reloaded back into the trailer and it was not overloaded, he said.
There were no irregularities with the truck, Andrews said.
He believed the three-year suspension was an appropriate sentence, Andrews said.
When Willey's license was suspended for three years, it also meant he could not drive for three years and he could not work for three years, Andrews said.
Marjerison said the accident is hard to explain.
He has a clean driving record. He doesn't speed. When he went into the turn he was doing 33 miles an hour in the 30 mph zone and reached 37 miles on impact when it tipped, Marjerison said.
It doesn't make much sense that the truck tipped, Marjerison said.
“This is an absolutely tragic accident,” he said. “He didn't mean for this to happen.”
It was suggested that Willey do community service instead of pay a fine.
“Any fine would be a hardship,” Marjerison said. “He'd rather do the fine. He is a worker.”
“I was trying to go the speed limit,” Willey said. “I don't know how this happened.”
He said he lives with the death of the girl every hour of every day.
Andrews said the Meisel's mother was notified of the court time and date.
He said that if she was there, she would have asked for the maximum punishment.
Willey was driving a truck for Linkletter Trucking out of Athens at the time of the accident.