(AP) — A U-Haul official said Monday that it was "reckless" for an attorney who represents the driver of a rented truck that struck and killed a woman at the Yale-Harvard football game to claim that the vehicle malfunctioned while police are still investigating.
Yale undergraduate Brendan Ross was behind the wheel of the truck that witnesses said sped up as it drove into a parking lot full of tailgaters on Saturday, hitting three women, including one who died.
William Dow, an attorney for Ross, said without elaborating over the weekend that the crash was an accident that was apparently caused by a vehicle malfunction.
U-Haul Co. of Connecticut President Pete Sciortino dismissed Dow's remarks as premature speculation, noting that the truck has been in police custody since it was impounded as part of the police investigation. Safety and compliance with the law are the company's top priorities, he said.
"As a criminal defense attorney, we realize that Mr. Dow has a job to do; however, without any factual basis for such a claim, his premature speculation regarding a vehicle malfunction during a pending investigation is reckless, inappropriate and disrespectful to the victims and their families and to the other various communities involved in this tragedy," Sciortino said in a statement.
The truck will be inspected, and it could take weeks or months before police can determine whether anyone should face charges, said Officer David Hartman, a spokesman for the New Haven police.
The vehicle involved in the crash was up-to-date on scheduled maintenance, said Joanne Fried, a spokeswoman for U-Haul International Inc., which is based in Phoenix.
Ross passed a field sobriety test after the crash, and police said he has been cooperative in their investigation.
Police said Ross was driving the U-Haul carrying beer kegs through a popular tailgating area before the football game when witnesses saw the vehicle turn a corner and speed up, striking three women, including 30-year-old Nancy Barry, of Salem, Mass., who was killed. The truck then crashed into other U-Haul vans on the lot.
Barry's mother, Paula St. Pierre, told the New Haven Register that her daughter came to New Haven to have fun with a longtime friend and "everybody's shell-shocked."
Also injured were Sarah Short, 31, a Yale student from New Haven, who was hospitalized with leg injuries, and Elizabeth Dernbach, 23, a Harvard employee originally from Naples, Fla., who was treated for her injuries and released.