A New Jersey truck driver has been found guilty of negligent homicide and negligent endangerment for the 2008 traffic death of a volunteer fireman in Mineral County.
Sergey Buslayev, 57, of Emerson, N.J., was at the wheel of a FedEx semi that jackknifed on an icy Interstate 90 near DeBorgia and slammed into the pickup truck of Jerry Parrick on Dec. 17, 2008.
Parrick, a volunteer and safety officer for the West End Fire Department, was inside the truck warning traffic of a single-vehicle wreck about a quarter-mile ahead. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
After three days of testimony before District Court Judge Dusty Deschamps in late June, a jury in Superior found Buslayev guilty of both charges. He's scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 9, and remains in Mineral County jail.
Mineral County attorney Marcia Boris said Buslayev faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for the negligent homicide charge. He was found not guilty of criminal endangerment, but was guilty of a lesser included offense of negligent endangerment. It carries a maximum sentence of one year.
Missoula attorney David Paoli aided Boris in the prosecution after representing Parrick's family in a civil suit against Buslayev, FedEx Ground Package System Inc. and Bridgewater Trucking LLC. The suit was settled out of court last September.
Paoli said prosecutors were able to prove negligence on a number of points outlined in the arrest warrant filed last June by then-County Attorney Shaun Donovan.
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Parrick's pickup was parked properly and was well-illuminated with amber and red flashing lights on the roof and flashing lights in the tail assemblies, all visible for at least half a mile.
Crash reconstruction estimates indicated that Buslayev, with two trailers behind, was traveling between 63 and 72 miles an hour when the truck began to skid. Several other commercial motor vehicles passed Parrick's truck without incident moments before Buslayev arrived. Their drivers indicated they were traveling between 35 and 55 mph.
Prosecutors also stressed that the FedEx truck and trailers were mechanically deficient in various important safety aspects, Paoli said. The front steering tires had bald spots, and Buslayev was driving with jake breaks on in the high position, "a huge safety problem" in winter driving conditions, he said.
Paoli asked to get involved in the criminal prosecution of Buslayev after preparing the civil suit against FedEx and its trucking procedures.
"I needed to see this through for the family and to help make sure that the facts about this horrible tragedy and fatality are known by truck drivers and trucking companies alike, to help make it is safer out there," he said.
Reporter Kim Briggeman can be reached at 523-5266 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.