A New Jersey truck driver was recently found guilty of negligent homicide and negligent endangerment for the 2008 traffic death of a volunteer fireman in Mineral County, Montana on Dec. 17, 2008, according to a report in the Missoulian.
The trucker, Sergey Buslayev, 57, of Emerson, N.J., was at the wheel of a FedEx semi that jackknifed on an icy patch of Interstate 90 and crashed into a pickup truck driven by Jerry Parrick, a volunteer and safety officer. Patrick was parked on the side of the highway with his pickup illuminated with flashing lights to warn traffic of a single-vehicle wreck about a quarter-mile ahead. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
After three days of testimony in late June, a jury found Buslayev guilty of negligent homicide, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, according to prosecuting attorney Marcia Boris. The negligent endangerment conviction carries a maximum sentence of one year. The trucker will be sentenced Sept. 9.
David Paoli, a Missoula attorney who aided in the prosecution, said prosecutors were able to prove negligence against the driver on a number of points, including:
• Parrick's pickup was well illuminated with amber and red flashing lights visible for at least half a mile and was parked properly.
• Buslayev was traveling too fast for conditions, according to Paoli. Crash reconstruction estimates indicated that Buslayev, hauling a set of doubles, was traveling between 63 and 72 mph when the truck began to skid. Several other big rigs had successfully passed Parrick's pickup moments before the accident and the drivers of those trucks indicated they were traveling between 35 and 55 mph.
• Vehicle condition was also called into question by prosecutors. The front steer tires had bald spots, Paoli said, and Buslayev was driving with the Jake brake on in the high position, “a huge safety problem” in winter driving conditions, he added.
Paoli asked to get involved in the criminal prosecution of Buslayev after representing Parrick's family in a civil suit against Buslayev, FedEx Ground Package System Inc. and Bridgewater Trucking LLC. That suit was settled out of court last September.
“I needed to see this through for the family and to help make sure that the facts about this horrible tragedy and fatality are known by truck drivers and trucking companies alike, to help make it safer out there,” Paoli said.