A driver was sentenced to just one year’s probation despite causing a crash that killed a father and his four daughters, as well as seriously injuring the mother.
Alvin Hubbard III pleaded guilty to five counts of operating a vehicle causing death, as well as one count each for second-degree and third-degree vehicular assault for the July 2018 crash. He was sentenced at the New Castle County Courthouse in Delaware on Friday, November 1.
Mary Rose Ballocanag, the widow and mother involved in the incident, asked the judge to impose the 14-year maximum prison sentence allowed by law, Delaware Online report. Prosecutors asked for Hubbard to be sentenced to six months in prison.
See the mother’s reaction to the sentencing below:
The incident took place in July 2018, when Hubbard was driving south with a co-worker on Delaware’s primary north-south expressway.
As he was driving, Hubbard’s truck veered to the left of the road and crossed the median, entering into the northbound lanes. He collided with a car before hitting an oncoming minivan, in which the family of five were travelling back from a holiday.
The incident claimed the lives of 61-year-old Audie Trinidad and daughters Kaitlyn, 20, Danna, 17, and twins Allison and Melissa, 14.
Hubbard declined the opportunity to speak at Friday’s hearing but Ballocanag approached a lectern to describe the injuries she suffered and treatments she endured following the crash. Despite having eight surgeries, the grieving mother has not regained full use of her legs and arms.
As a result, she will never again be able to work as a nurse.
Ballocanag went on to discuss the heartbreak she feels, saying:
[My] physical pain is nothing compared to the mental pain and anguish of losing my entire family.
Hubbard’s attorney, John Kirk, said the horrific crash had been the result of a respiratory condition Hubbard has, called cough syncope. Kirk said Hubbard began to cough while driving and it caused him to stray from the lane, however the cough then became more violent and caused him to pass out.
Ballocanag reportedly appeared doubtful that a coughing fit could have caused the crash that took her family.
As the mother finished delivering her comments, she turned toward Hubbard and showed him a photo of her four daughters and husband.
Addressing the driver, she said:
I want you to look at their faces. So when you look at your children, you will see the pieces of my children and my husband.
The defence said Hubbard, a divorced father of two teenagers, was ‘already in a prison of his own sorrow’. They read aloud an apologetic letter he had written to Ballocanag, but the mother said she ‘didn’t care’ about the letter, pointing out: ‘It’s not going to bring my family back.’
Despite the mother’s heartfelt comments, Judge Calvin L. Scott Jr. sentenced Hubbard to one year’s probation. If he does not satisfy the terms of that probation, he could face 14 years in prison.
Ballocanag was brought to tears by the ruling and expressed her disappointment to CBS2, saying:
Today, I feel my family was killed all over again.
The heartbroken mother was supported by about 18 of her friends and extended family who attended the hearing and rallied around her when the judge announced the sentence that has been called a ‘slap on the wrist’.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.