, Salem, MA

February 2, 2013

No jail time for Yale student in fatal accident

By Bethany Bray

---- — The Yale University student who struck and killed Salem resident Nancy Barry before a 2011 Harvard-Yale football game received a special form of probation yesterday that will leave him with no criminal record.

Brendan Ross, of O’Fallon, Mo., will serve 400 hours of community service but no jail time. He was granted accelerated rehabilitation in New Haven, Conn., Superior Court yesterday, a program for first-time offenders whose charges are dismissed if they successfully complete probation.

Police say Ross was driving a rental truck carrying beer kegs through a popular tailgating area before the Harvard-Yale game when witnesses saw the vehicle turn a corner and speed up, striking three women.

Barry, a 30 year-old Salem native, was killed.

Ross, 22, pleaded guilty to two infractions: traveling too fast and unsafe starting. He had been charged with negligent homicide with a motor vehicle and reckless driving, but prosecutors agreed to change the charges to reckless driving and reckless endangerment so that he would be eligible for the program.

Ross passed a field sobriety test after the collision and police said he was cooperative in the investigation. He did not comment in court other than to answer the judge’s questions and enter a plea for the infractions.

Attorneys said Barry’s family and the other victims agreed with the resolution of the case.

Barry’s mother, Paula St. Pierre of Salem, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Ross’ attorney, William Dow III, said yesterday his client is grateful for the compassion shown by Barry’s family and the other accident victims.

“Brendan Ross is an outstanding young man who was involved in a tragic accident,” Dow said in a statement. “He will emerge from this without a criminal record, but the memory of that tragedy remains. Brendan and his family have extended their condolences to Ms. Barry’s family when the accident occurred. Ms. Barry remains in their prayers.”

In a November 2011 interview with The Salem News, St. Pierre described her daughter as genuine and “the most unpretentious person you’d ever want to meet.”

A 1999 graduate of Salem High School, Barry went on to study fashion at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. A lifelong resident of the city, Barry was a star in soccer and track at Salem High.

She had worked as a designer for Appleseed’s, New Balance and Jacalyn E. S. Bennett and Co. in Newburyport.

Her family — her mother, sister Daniella Broadbent and grandmother, Nancy St. Pierre, of Salem — submitted a letter to the editor of The Salem News thanking the community for their support after Barry’s death.

“We just don’t have the words to express how grateful and deeply moved we are by the outpouring of love we have received,” they wrote in December 2011. “Nancy was taken from us too quickly, but her memory will live on in our hearts and in all the friends she made and the lives she got to be a part of.”

Barry had gone to the Nov. 19, 2011 Harvard-Yale football game with a group of friends.

Also injured in the truck accident were Sarah Short, 31, a Yale student, and Elizabeth Dernbach, 23, a Harvard employee. Short has filed a lawsuit against Ross and U-Haul.

Yesterday, Prosecutor David Strollo said Ross said he did not intentionally cause the accident.

“By all accounts, he was appropriately remorseful,” Strollo said.

Strollo said Ross was driving a rented U-Haul and when he reached a parking lot, pedestrian traffic was blocking the way. Ross revved the engine in an effort to get the pedestrians to move, but the truck took off, Strollo said.

Ross said he was hitting the brake but it was the gas pedal, Strollo said.

Strollo said an expert found no defects with the vehicle that contributed to the accident, and a defense expert came to the same conclusion.

Yale tightened its tailgating rules after the crash. It now bans kegs at university athletic events and other functions. Also, oversized vehicles, such as box trucks and large commercial vehicles, are barred from university lots at athletic events unless they are driven by a preapproved authorized vendor.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.