GIRARD - A 65-year-old truck driver from Shiloh pleaded no contest and was found guilty Wednesday of three counts of vehicular homicide in connection with a 2010 triple fatal crash on Interstate 80 in Hubbard.
Girard Municipal Judge Jeff Adler ordered Eugene White to undergo a presentence investigation before a sentencing date is set.
White's case was returned to the Girard court after a grand jury that heard facts of the crash opted to indict on misdemeanor charges. White originally was charged in a secret indictment with three counts of vehicular homicide and three similar counts of vehicular manslaughter.
Since he could only be convicted on three counts, Adler found White guilty of the vehicular homicide charges, a first-degree misdemeanor charge. The second-degree mansalughter charges were dismissed.
The vehicular homicide alleged negligence on the part of White. The maximum penalty for a first-degree misdemeanor is 180 days and the potential of having his license suspended for two to 10 years.
The charges from the grand jury contained no aggravated specifications such as alcohol, drugs or excessive speed. Instead, White was cited with failing to maintain assured clear distance.
Tribune Chronicle / Christopher Bobby
Eugene White, left, pleads no contest Wednesday in Girard Municipal Court to three counts of vehicular homicide. Listening is his attorney, Sam Amendolara.
White's semi rear-ended a 2007 Ford Explorer on May 24, 2010, in a construction zone in the eastbound lane of I-80, pushing the SUV into a FedEx truck.
Killed were Shirley Gilmore, 65, of Warren, the driver of the Explorer that was carrying her brother and sister, David Westenfelder, 56, and Wendy Frost, 59, both of Surprise, Ariz. Gilmore was taking her family back to the Pittsburgh airport after celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary.
The highway was closed for nearly six hours after the SUV was sandwiched between the two trucks.
Several members of the Gilmore family attended the court proceeding and Adler invited the family to write victim impact letters to his probation department, which will conduct the pre-sentence investigation.
Prosecutor Robert Johnson said he would rely on information that turns up in the report rather than filing a recommended sentence in a memorandum.
White, who is represented by attorney Sam Amendolara, has remained free on bond. Amerdolara called the crash an ''unfortunate accident'' and one that his client has remained remorseful for.