Trash truck driver found not guilty in Crozet crash with chartered train
UPDATE (Feb. 28):
A jury has returned a "not guilty" verdict in the trial of Dana Naylor, the man accused of manslaughter in a fatal crash between a trash truck and a train that was carrying Republican members of Congress.
The jury deliberated for more than five hours before arriving at the verdict on the manslaughter charge. A second charge of DUI maiming was dismissed earlier in the day after a judge ruled the science on marijuana intoxication wasn't settled.
Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert Tracci said regardless of the outcome, bringing the case to trial was necessary so the facts of the case would come out.
"This was an important case to bring to the community. The jury rendered its verdict. We respect that verdict. But it was absolutely necessary to bring this care and I'm glad we did so," said Tracci.
Naylor's defense attorney, Will Tanner, declined to comment after the verdict.
The crash happened in January of 2018 as a chartered Amtrak train headed to a retreat at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. One trash company employee, 28-year-old Christopher Foley, was killed, and a second passenger was severely injured.
The man on trial for a fatal train crash in Crozet had one charged dropped Wednesday morning during the third day of his trial.
On Wednesday morning, Albemarle Circuit Court Judge Cheryl Higgins dismissed the DUI maiming charge against Dana Naylor. She had previously excluded evidence about the level of THC in Naylor's blood and testimony from a toxicologist about what levels of THC in the blood result in impairment.
THC is the active compound in marijuana. Higgins sided with the defense, which argued that impairment from THC cannot be determined from blood levels alone.
The involuntary manslaughter charge is still active.
Naylor is charged in the
between a trash truck and an Amtrak train that was carrying members of Congress. Naylor was driving the trash truck.
One of Naylor's passengers, Christopher Foley, was killed. Another passenger, Dennis Eddy, was permanently injured.
The prosecution rested its case Wednesday morning, and the defense presented a single witness. Crozet resident Mandy Snow told the jury she lives near the railroad crossing where the crash happened. She said the safety arms at the crossing have malfunctioned in the past, and they don't seem to activate with enough time when high-speed passenger trains are coming through.
The jury is expected to get the case this afternoon.
On Monday, during the first day of the trial, the Amtrak engineers said they saw the truck try to get around the safety gate at the crossing just before the impact, but the defense says the gates came down after the truck was already on the tracks.
On Tuesday morning, the prosecution continued to call witnesses to the stand, to piece together what happened moments before the truck was hit by the train.
It was revealed in court that Time Disposal, the company for which Naylor and the two passengers worked, collaborated with the National Transportation Safety Board to help recreate the scene of the crash.
This included bringing in an exact model of the truck that was involved in the crash to the crossing.
Testimony showed the company was unable to drive around the crossing gates while they were down.
Evidence also showed the truck was always moving, even if very slowly, right before it was hit by the train.
On Tuesday the judge ruled no testimony concerning the amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, in Naylor's blood would be allowed.
Prosecutors wanted a toxicologist to testify regarding what amount of THC can produce intoxication, which prosecutors said was relevant, so the jury could understand the science.
But the defense filed a motion to exclude such testimony and the judge agreed, because the toxicologist said there is no reliable way to know if someone is intoxicated based only on a blood test.
Will Tanner, the defense attorney, said no one can say what a specific amount of THC concentration means.
The prosecution did present other witnesses, including doctors who treated Dennis Eddy, a man who suffered permanent injuries in the crash, including a traumatic brain injury.
Eddy's father, also named Dennis Eddy, testified how his son is no longer the same person. He has memory problems, his father said, must deal with physical disabilities, and is still in a rehabilitation center.
Later Tuesday afternoon, the judge also ruled in favor of the defense regarding a small amount of marijuana that was found inside a lunch box in the truck, which the prosecution wanted to use as evidence.