Tailgate Review Begun at Yale

While Yale administrators have launched a review of the school’s tailgate policies after a U-Haul truck struck and killed a 30-year-old woman at this year’s Harvard-Yale tailgate, Harvard administrators say they have made no decision to conduct a special review following the accident.

Harvard reviews its tailgating policies every year, and according to Faculty of Arts and Sciences spokesperson Jeff Neal no decision has been reached as to whether an additional review is necessary.

Director of the Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Services Ryan M. Travia said that he was “not sure” if the incident at Yale would directly impact future decisions about tailgate regulations.

“There’s certainly going to be conversation about this as the investigation continues,” Travia said.

At Yale, the administrative impact of the U-Haul incident is not yet clear. Yale administrators have told the Yale Daily News that the college’s review would center on the “logistical issues of tailgating” such as the use of U-Hauls.

Brendan Ross, a junior at Yale, was driving a U-haul truck transporting kegs to the tailgate when his truck struck and killed Nancy Barry, a resident of Salem, Mass., and injured two other women. Eyewitnesses said that as Ross’ U-Haul turned into the tailgating area it accelerated rapidly and hit three women before crashing into another U-Haul, which, in turn, hit a third.

According to a statement from the New Haven Police Department, Ross passed a field sobriety test shortly after the incident. Ross’ attorney, William F. Dow III, has said that the accident was the result of vehicle malfunction, a claim that has sparked a war of words between Dow and U-Haul.

In a written statement, Pete Sciortino, the president of the U-Haul Company of Connecticut, called Dow’s characterization of the incident “reckless” and “inappropriate,” and cautioned against drawing premature conclusions about the cause of the accident.

“Since the time of the accident, the vehicle has been under the exclusive custody of the police and now resides within a protected police impound—which is exactly where it should be,” Sciortino wrote. “As Mr. Dow has not had any access to the equipment, it stretches credulity that anyone would be able to intelligently make a comment such as the one Mr. Dow made regarding a vehicle malfunction.”

Dow did not return repeated requests for comment on Wednesday.

The NHPD has launched an investigation into why the U-Haul truck accelerated and said in a statement that it would review the mechanics of the U-Haul truck and solicit witness statements as part of their investigation.

The accident has also led to heightened scrutiny of box trucks like the one involved in the accident.

On Monday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, called on the Department of Transportation to investigate whether there is a need for nationwide safety standards for rental trucks.

“I understand that many of these vehicles are similar in size and carrying capacity to trucks used in commercial fleets but are not subject to the same stringent federal safety standards,” Blumenthal wrote in a letter to Ray LaHood, the Transportation Secretary. “This absence of safety oversight is particularly troubling because many rental truck companies have fleets that are older and more heavily used than similar commercial vehicles. Recent reports of rental truck safety violations are revealing and alarming.”

Harvard students have come to expect laxer tailgating rules in New Haven, where kegs, U-Hauls, and hard liquor—all banned at Harvard—are tailgate staples. Yale tightened its rules this year, requiring tailgate attendees to show IDs and wear wristbands attesting to their legal drinking age before they could be served alcohol.

—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at hrouse@college.harvard.edu.

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