Ex-truck company owner pleads not guilty in Connecticut crash

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The former trucking company owner charged with manslaughter in connection with the fiery dump truck crash that killed four people last summer in Connecticut pleaded not guilty Tuesday, Aug. 1, and requested a jury trial. In addition to four counts of first-degree manslaughter, David Wilcox, 71, is charged with five counts of first-degree assault, interfering with an officer, tampering with or fabricating evidence and conspiracy to tamper with evidence.

The American Crushing & Recycling dump truck that crashed last summer had a “mechanical failure of the braking and clutch systems” that caused the driver to lose control, according to the affidavit for the arrest of Wilcox. The truck then gained speed as it went downhill on Route 44 on Avon mountain and had “a catastrophic brake system malfunction” before it crashed into cars and a bus waiting at a light at the foot of the mountain, the affidavit says. Three motorists and the truck driver were killed, and 11 people were injured, five of them seriously.

Wilcox, who was arrested by Avon police on July 23 after a yearlong investigation, is accused of knowingly putting the truck on the road despite its poor condition and consciously disregarding an unjustifiable risk. But Hubert J. Santos, Wilcox’s lawyer, has disputed the allegations, saying that driver error, not mechanical failure, caused the crash. Santos says the driver, who had blown an engine for a previous employer before Wilcox hired him, couldn’t get the truck out of gear as it gained speed.

Wilcox’s son, Shaun Wilcox, 25, is charged with interfering with an officer, tampering with or fabricating evidence, and conspiracy to tamper with or fabricate evidence in connection with the July 29, 2005, crash. He has not yet entered a plea in his case, according to the Hartford Courant.