Yale Student Charged in Tailgate Death Receives Probation

Yale student Brendan Ross, the driver of a U-Haul truck that killed one woman and injured two others at the 2011 Harvard-Yale Game tailgate, was granted a form of probation Friday that allows him to avoid a criminal record.

The program, known as accelerated rehabilitation, allows charges against first-time offenders to be dismissed if they complete probation without incident. During his probation, Ross must complete 400 hours of community service.

The court's decision was the result of an agreement struck between all groups involved in the trial.

“It was a result of cooperation and collaboration of all interested parties," said Ross’s attorney William F. Dow III.

This past April, Sarah Short, one of the women injured in the crash and a student at the Yale School of Management, filed a suit in the New Haven Superior Court against Ross and U-Haul for at least $15,000 worth of damages caused by the incident.

In May, Ross was initially arrested and charged with reckless driving and negligent homicide with a motor vehicle, a misdemeanor charge carrying a possible punishment of up to six months in jail. He turned himself in to New Haven police after finishing his last exam of the spring semester of his junior year.

But the prosecution agreed to lower the charges against Ross to reckless driving and reckless endangerment, making him eligible for the accelerated rehabilitation program.

Dow said that throughout the legal process, he was impressed by both Ross’s integrity and the understanding of the family of Nancy Barry, the 30-year-old Salem, Mass., resident who was killed in the accident.

“It’s one of those things where the level of decency of the defendant is matched by the forgiveness and decency of the family. There was complete synchronization of values. It’s just so refreshing to see that,” Dow said.

On Nov. 19, 2011, Ross was driving a U-Haul carrying beer kegs to his fraternity’s tailgate party when the accident occurred. Witnesses said at the time that the truck unexpectedly sped up as it turned into a pedestrian-heavy area of the tailgate. The crash killed Barry and injured Short and one other woman.

Ross tested clean in a sobriety test issued immediately following the accident. Even so, Yale has since tightened its restrictions on drinking before the annual Game, requiring that tailgates shut down by kickoff and banning U-Hauls and kegs from the student section of the tailgate.

—Staff writer Elizabeth S. Auritt can be reached at eauritt@college.harvard.edu.

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