A driver who pleaded guilty to causing a wrong-way crash that killed five members of a New Jersey family in 2018 avoided jail time when he was ordered Friday to serve one year of probation, according to multiple media reports.
“Today I feel like my family was killed all over again,” the family’s surviving member, widow and mother Mary Rose Ballocanag, said after the sentencing, reports WLNY.
The driver, 46-year-old Alvin Hubbard III, of Cambridge, Maryland, still could wind up behind bars if he violates the terms of his probation. Judge Calvin L. Scott Jr. imposed the maximum combined sentence of 14 years in prison for Hubbard’s conviction on five misdemeanor counts of operating a motor vehicle causing death and two misdemeanor counts of vehicular assault, reports NBC Philadelphia, but he suspended the prison time for probation instead.
In setting aside that prison time for probation, the judge ignored the prosecution’s request that Hubbard serve at least six months in prison, according to The News Journal of Delaware.
The six members of the Trinidad family of Teaneck, New Jersey, were traveling home from a vacation in Ocean City, Maryland, on July 6, 2018, when a Ford F-350 pickup driven by Hubbard veered across the median of Delaware Route 1. Police said Hubbard first struck a sedan and then collided with the Hubbards’ minivan.
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Fatally injured in the collision were husband and father Audie Trinidad, 61, a postal worker and Navy veteran, along with his daughters, Kaitlyn, 20, Danna, 17, and twins Allison and Melissa, 13.
Hubbard and his passenger in the pickup did not suffer any serious injuries.
Hubbard originally was indicted and pleaded not guilty to five counts of second-degree vehicular homicide and three counts of vehicular assault. Those charges later were reduced.
In court Friday, Hubbard’s attorney, John Kirk, cited a respiratory condition that he said caused his client to cough while driving and stray from his lane before the cough grew more violent and Hubbard passed out, reports The News Journal. He denied that Hubbard had fallen asleep at the wheel, and said a doctor later diagnosed Hubbard with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.
“Many lives were ruined that day, including his,” said Kirk.
Prosecutors had argued that Hubbard, a welder, had slept only four or five hours the previous night before working a full day, but under questioning said the state found no evidence of “intentional or reckless conduct.”
Hubbard tearfully declined his opportunity to speak during his sentencing.
Ballocanag said in court that she has failed to regain full use of her arms and legs despite eight surgeries she endured after the crash and will never be able to return to her job as a nurse, “but my physical pain is nothing compared to the mental pain and anguish of losing my entire family,” reports The News Journal.
She cried as she showed the judge and then Hubbard a photo of her four daughters and husband.
“I want you to look at their faces,” she said to Hubbard. “So when you look at your children, you will see the pieces of my children and my husband.”
After the sentencing, Ballocanag told WLNY that she would rely on her faith going forward.
“I’ll just put everything in God’s hands,” she said. “He will give me the justice I’m always praying for.”
A GoFundMe account was set up to help support the family’s ongoing financial needs.
The post N.J. Dad, 4 Daughters Are Killed in Wrong-Way Crash, and Driver Gets Probation appeared first on People.