Massachusetts man pleads guilty in 2014 deadly Waterford crash

The driver of a tractor-trailer involved in an October 2014 highway crash in Waterford that killed a 26-year-old man and two young children pleaded guilty Tuesday in New London Superior Court to three counts of negligent homicide and reckless driving.  

Gerard S. Dube, 62, of Swansea, Mass., will be sentenced Jan. 23 to up to nine months in prison followed by three years of probation.

Relatives of the victims spoke at the plea hearing before Judge Ernest Green Jr. and are expected to return to court for the sentencing.

Dube was driving a tractor-trailer for Gold Medal Bakery Inc. when the crash occurred shortly before 7 p.m. on Oct. 12, 2014, just south of Exit 82 in the southbound lanes of I-95. Baughnita Leary, 25, of Meriden was slowing for traffic congestion caused by an earlier accident, when her Nissan Sentra and several other vehicles were struck from behind by a tractor-trailer driven by Dube.

Leary was badly injured. Her fiancé, 26-year-old Darin Robinson, 3-year-old son, Dacari, and 9-year-old daughter, Sanaa, all died from their injuries.

Leary said at Tuesday's hearing that she understands the crash was an accident and doesn't want Dube to "rot in jail," according to Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney David J. Smith. Robinson's mother, however, said Dube should serve a longer prison term.

The victims filed civil wrongful death lawsuits in the case, which have since been settled confidentially. The suits alleged negligence and carelessness on behalf of Dube for driving with inadequate or defective brakes, speeding, driving when his alertness was impaired by fatigue and not leaving enough distance between vehicles. Also, one of the lawsuits alleged that Gold Medal Bakery failed to properly monitor the inspection and maintenance of the tractor-trailer and failed to properly maintain a driving log of the driver.

Dube made several court appearances while his criminal charges were pending. The plea deal he accepted Tuesday had been worked out among Dube's attorney, Eugene Riccio, and Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney Michael Kennedy during pretrial discussions before Judge Kevin P. McMahon. Kennedy has since retired.

k.florin@theday.com

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