Yale Tailgate Crash Victim Sues Driver, U-Haul

One of the two women injured in the U-Haul crash at the November Harvard-Yale Game tailgate party that killed a third woman filed a lawsuit last week seeking at least $15,000 in damages from the Yale undergraduate who was driving the vehicle and the rental truck company.

In a memorandum filed with the Superior Court of New Haven, Sarah Short, a Yale School of Management student, claimed that she has suffered from “severe painful and obvious injuries” since she was hit by a truck driven by Yale junior Brendan Ross at the tailgate party.

The crash also killed Short’s close friend, 30-year-old Salem resident Nancy Barry, and injured Harvard employee Elizabeth Dernbach.

In the court filing, Short, 30, listed five potential causes of her injuries, for which she said either Ross or the U-Haul Company of Connecticut should be held responsible—including the driver’s failure to honk his horn, the excessive speed at which he was driving, and the unsafe condition of the truck that he rented.

Ross, who had been transporting beer kegs to his fraternity’s tailgate party, was taken into police custody immediately after the accident and released that night. He registered as sober on a Breathalyzer test conducted at the scene.

Ross has not been charged with any crime, but New Haven Police Department spokesperson David Hartman said on Tuesday that charges may still be in the works. The investigation into the accident is closed, Hartman said, but the state attorney’s office will not determine whether to issue an indictment until transcripts of witness statements are made in four to six weeks.

According to Short’s complaint, which was filed by New Haven lawyer Michael A. Stratton, she underwent multiple surgeries after the collision. Her injuries included “severe and deep bone bruising,” “extensive soft tissue loss,” “severe scarring,” and “extreme pain.”

She has also struggled with the emotional repercussions of witnessing her close friend’s unexpected death and then confronting her own wounds.

The court document said that Short is seeking damages to compensate for the wages and time in school that she lost due to her injuries as well as the cost of her medical care.

The memorandum stated, “The plaintiff...suffered and will continue to suffer an overall impairment to her earning capacity and ability to carry on and enjoy all of life’s other activities.”

Short, Ross, and their respective attorneys could not be reached for comment on Tuesday evening.

In response to the fatal accident, Yale announced new tailgating regulations in January. In the future, tailgates at Yale will shut down at kick-off. Yale also decided to ban kegs and prohibit vehicles like U-Hauls from the student section of the tailgate.

Harvard instituted similar policies starting at the 2010 Harvard-Yale Game.

—Staff writer Amy Q. Friedman can be reached at aqfriedman@college.harvard.edu.

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