Aug 28, 2014
Aug 21, 2014
Aug 14, 2014
Jul 24, 2014
Deal allows Vt. truck driver to avoid prison for fatal Lebanon crash
Brewster Thurston, 53, will have to find a new line of work, his attorney said Wednesday, and must pay nearly $30,000 restitution to the estate of Richard Rouleau as part of a plea agreement in Grafton County Superior Court.
Thurston had been scheduled to go to trial this month on a charge of negligent homicide, and a conviction on that Class B felony could have meant 3½ to 7 years in prison.
But Judge Peter H. Bornstein instead approved a plea agreement Tuesday between Assistant Grafton County Attorney Paul Fitzgerald, the prosecutor, and Thurston's attorney, Charlie Buttrey of Lebanon. Thurston pleaded guilty to vehicular assault, a Class A misdemeanor, for causing Rouleau's death by failing to properly maintain his 1996 Western Star logging truck and its trailer.
Bornstein sentenced him to 12 months in the Grafton County House of Corrections in North Haverhill, all suspended for four years during which Thurston must maintain good behavior. The judge ordered that his Class A commercial driver's license be revoked for seven years, but he can petition after three years to have it restored.
The restitution includes more than $14,000 for Rouleau's funeral expenses. Buttrey said Wednesday Rouleau's widow, Sandy Lea, gave her approval to the plea deal.
Authorities at the scene of the Feb. 17, 2011 crash said Rouleau - a 59-year-old Manchester native - was driving on Route 4 that morning near the bridge over the Mascoma River on his way to a job when he encountered the runaway trailer coming in the opposite direction and straight at his van. The self-employed tradesman had no time to react, according to police, before the impact knocked his van over, killing him instantly.
Thurston had just dropped off a load of logs that day and was on his way to reload, police said. He has not been available for public comment since the crash.
"He's haunted by this," Buttrey said Wednesday, regarding his client. "A day does not go by that he does not think about it."
Regarding the loss of the Class A license that allowed him to operate a logging truck, Buttrey said, "He's going to have to find a new line of work. This doesn't affect his Class B license; he can still drive a dump truck or a plow truck."
On the morning of the crash - which Lea described in an interview last year as "the worst, worst, day of my life," - she was also headed to work over much the same route her husband had taken, and passed the crash scene on her way. But she didn't see her husband's van, and didn't realize he might have been involved until she couldn't reach him by phone a bit later that morning. She then drove back to the crash site where police gave her the news. Records on file at the court show that during its investigation of the case, the Grafton County Attorney's Office found a history of safety-inspection violations involving Thurston's truck.
Assistant Grafton County Attorney Mary Bleier last year filed a report saying the same trailer had come loose from his truck in another incident that had occurred just several days prior to the crash that killed Rouleau.
Neither Bleier nor Fitzgerald returned messages left for them on Wednesday.
READER COMMENTS: 0
- Authorities mum about reports of shooting in Manchester - 0
- Police say woman broke into Hollis home and took pictures - 0
- Addiction treatment doctor gets restricted license - 0
- Newmarket man charged with sex assault of 12-year-old girl - 0
- Wife charged with stabbing husband during argument - 0
- Imprisoned pair could add to their already lengthy sentences if found guilty of assault - 0
- Judge nixes house arrest for man convicted in Ponzi scheme - 0
- Raymond man faces possession of child porn charges - 0
- Man failed to note conviction on gun permit - 0
READER COMMENTS: 0
- Tom Herzig's Trackside: Patnode poised to win NH Weekly Series crown - 0
- NHIAA Boys' Soccer Preview: Talent to boot - 0
- Last call at home for Fisher Cats tonight - 0
- Jessica Goldman was on the move - 0
- Band camp gets Memorial musicians in rhythm a week early - 1
- Drew Cline: Small sleights of hand in Republican primaries around NH - 0
- Where is Shaheen? Hiding from you - 6
- Portman's good point: A leadership deficit all around - 1
- Scott and Genevieve Kelley - 0
Where is Shaheen? Hiding from you
Reports: Market Basket doomsday plan would shutter 61 of 71 stores if deal not struck soon
GOP for legal pot? Hemignway's high help
- Mass. Supreme Judicial Court has found upskirt photos taken on a subway aren't illegal. Should such voyeurism be a crime?
- Total Votes: 917