Friday, January 19, 2001

Trucker not guilty in deaths

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Mother, 2 kids died in this Fairfield wreckage.
(Michael Snyder photo)
| ZOOM |
        HAMILTON — The driver of a trash truck that collided with a car last spring, killing a woman and her twin daughters, was acquitted Thursday of three counts of vehicular manslaughter.

        A Butler County Area II Court jury of five women and three men deliberated 2 1/2 hours.

        Michael Vail, of Hanover Township, could have faced up to nine months in jail and a $2,250 fine.

        Assistant Prosecutor Rusty Thomas argued during the one-day trial that Mr. Vail was criminally responsible because he failed to keep enough distance between his truck and Lucy Davis' car.

        “The reason the defendant couldn't stop in time is that he was following too close,” he said.

        But Mr. Vail's attorney, James Perry, contended that a Jeep Cherokee in front of the trash truck obstructed Mr. Vail's view until it was too late.

        “What happened out there was an accident, not a crime,” Mr. Perry said.

        Mrs. Davis, 60, of Monroe, and her 7-year-old twin daughters, Demetria and Tambra, were killed in the accident June 9 on Ohio 4 in Fairfield Township.

        Mrs. Davis' 3-year-old nephew, Antonio Davis, survived the collision with minor injuries. He was sitting in the front seat, and the twins were in the back.

        Mrs. Davis was driving south when she suddenly stopped at flashing yellow lights at Creekside Drive, said Stephanie Plemons, who was driving the Jeep Cherokee behind Mrs. Davis.

        Ms. Plemons testified that she swerved into the right-turn lane to avoid hitting Mrs. Davis' car. She said she watched in her rear-view mirror as a Rumpke truck struck Mrs. Davis' car and pushed it through the intersection and off the road.

        Mr. Perry said Mr. Vail didn't see Mrs. Davis' car until the Cherokee swerved.


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