Daniel E. Musser pleaded guilty to manslaughter and drunken-driving charges today in connection with the March 2009 wrong-way crash that killed Connecticut College student Elizabeth Durante and seriously injured two other students.
Musser will be sentenced June 30 to up to eight years in prison.
Today in Norwich Superior Court, Musser pleaded gulty to second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment, two counts of second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and driving a motor vehicle without insurance.
Musser, a sailor who was stationed at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton and lived on Michelle Lane in Groton, was driving in the wrong direction on Interstate 395 in a Honda Accord that struck head-on a van carrying Durante and other students to Boston’s Logan International Airport, where they were going to board a flight for a humanitarian mission to Uganda.
Durante, a 20-year-old junior pre-med student from West Islip, N.Y., was thrown from the van and died at the scene. Seven other students in the van and its driver were treated and released from area hospitals.
Musser told state police he had four or five drinks at the Ultra 88 club at Mohegan Sun over the course of the night. He had a blood-alcohol content of 0.13 when tested following the crash. The legal limit for driving in Connecticut is 0.08. He was arrested at the scene and has been held on a $300,000 bond while his case was pending in Superior Court in Norwich.
According to state police, Musser left the casino shortly after 3:30 a.m. and became confused when he tried to enter Route 2A.
Instead of getting on the westbound lanes of Route 2A, he drove his car onto the eastbound side of the highway and headed west to the interstate, which he accessed by driving the wrong way down the Interstate 395 off-ramp.
Durante’s mother, Kathleen Hurley Durante, has brought a wrongful death lawsuit against Patrick T. Lyons, permittee of the Ultra 88 and Lucky’s Nightclubs at Mohegan Sun, and against the club’s financial backers, called Plan B LLC.
Musser, a native of Missouri, has been discharged from the Navy.