Driver sentenced in fatal accident

MIAMI COUNTY — The man behind the wheel of a commercial dump truck that collided with an SUV, killing an 11-year-old Troy boy, was sentenced on Monday.

In previous court proceedings, Christopher Young, 20, of New Carlisle, entered a no-contest plea to the charge and was found guilty by Judge Samuel Huffman. Young was indicted by a Miami County grand jury in the incident that claimed the life of 11-year-old Grant Gillespie of Troy on Aug. 3, 2020, at the intersection of Troy-Sidney Road and East Peterson Road in Staunton Township.

Young was sentenced to serve a maximum of five years of probation and had his license suspended for two years and other conditions for a single count of second-degree misdemeanor vehicular homicide in Miami County Municipal Court.

Young was the driver of the commercial dump truck that struck the passenger vehicle after running the stop sign traveling westbound on Troy-Sidney Road. An investigation by the Miami County Sheriff’s Office found there was no evidence of any mechanical defects in the dump truck and it was in good working order. The investigation was unable to determine the rate of speed Young was traveling at the time of the accident. An autopsy of Grant Gillespie determined he was killed by blunt force trauma from the impact. He was a passenger on the driver’s side of the Chevrolet Suburban.

“Words can not begin to describe the pain you must be going through today. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about that accident. Nothing I can say or do will bring back the birthdays, Christmases or sports that he’ll miss. I take full responsibility for my actions. I’m so sorry,” Young said.

Brian and Marcella Gillespie, the parents of Grant Gillespie, shared how their son was a passionate child and a “ray of sunshine in a sometimes dark world.”

“Grant was my best friend and a terrific boy who was loved by countless human beings,” Brian Gillespie shared. “Everything Grant did he did with passion, kindness and courage. He had a way about him that lit up a room without being loud or boisterous. People just wanted to be around him and he was welcoming to all.”

“When Grant was killed, my husband and I lost our son, his brother lost his best friend, his grandparents lost their grandson and his classmates and his friends lost someone they all truly cared about,” Marcella Gillespie shared. “My life is ruined, so is my husband’s, because of the actions that led to the car crash. Christopher Young took so much from our family on August 3rd. I will never be able to hug my son, tell him how much I love him or how proud I am of him ever again.”

The parents asked the court to sentence Young to the maximum penalties for his charge.

Judge Sam Huffman said, “Mr. and Mrs. Gillespie, there’s nothing I can say or do to make this easier for you or make you whole or make it any better on you for your son. I know he’s lost his best friend. It’s very difficult for me because I have my own kids.”

Huffman said he reviewed all the letters from both sides and reviewed the pre-sentence investigation in Young’s case to help determine an appropriate sentence. While Huffman said he didn’t think Young serving a jail sentence would be appropriate, he ordered Young to serve 200 hours of community service, pay a fine of $100, complete a distracted driving course and suspended 90 days in jail. Huffman said if Gillespies would like to select the non-profit or local service agency to which Young would serve the community service hours, they would honor their request or the probation department would appoint an agency for them. No restitution was ordered and he deferred that matter to civil court.

Prior to sentencing, defense attorney Steven Justice went through the details prior to the accident. Justice said Young’s dump truck had “pulled to the right” twice just prior to the accident and he wasn’t able to stop in time. Justice said other issues with the truck had been experienced by other workers, but they were not reported until after the incident.

To that point, Judge Huffman later said he didn’t believe the truck malfunctioned prior to the accident, having reviewed the traffic crash reports.

“I don’t buy the fact that your (truck) jerked to the right. You were that far away from the intersection and you did not brake until you got in the middle of the intersection. I don’t buy it for a second,” Judge Huffman said.

Huffman told Young that if he violated any terms of his probation or picked up any traffic violations during his limited privileges for work and school, he would order him to serve all 90 days in jail.

Other occupants of the SUV, the driver, Jennifer D. Hughes, and her son, Memphis Hughes, 12, both of Troy, went to the hospital with serious injuries and were transported by CareFlight from the scene.