By Eric Francis, Standard Correspondent
KILLINGTON – Criminal charges surrounding the July 2015 death of a driver from Connecticut who struck a Scottish Highlander bull after it got loose and began to wandering along a darkened Route 4 were resolved this past week in Rutland District Court with a plea agreement.
Longtime Killington farmer Craig Mosher, who also runs Mosher Excavating from his property which stretches between Route 4 and the Ottauquechee River, pleaded guilty June 28 to a misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment which the state had amended down from the felony involuntary manslaughter charge that was originally filed.
Jon Bellis, 62, of Woodbridge, Connecticut, was driving along Route 4 south of the Killington Skyeship gondolas parking lot in July 2015 when he drove straight into one of a pair of bulls.
Bellis was pronounced dead at the scene while his wife, who was in the passanger seat, sustained a wrist injury.
The bull weighed the better part of a ton,and the impact sent the
Bellis’ crushed Subaru Crosstrek rolling westward down a grassy slope where it came to rest against a tree just past the Val Roc Motel.
The tragedy caught the attention of farmers across the region who felt that Mosher was being unfairly held liable for the actions of an animal that he didn’t realize was off his property, but prosecutors argued that it had happened more than once in the weeks beforehand and noted that, minutes before the couple came along, Mosher had been awakened by a milk truck driver who warned him that he’d nearly hit the giant animal on the road in front of the nearby Val Roc Motel.
Investigators said that Mosher briefly checked for the animal before discounting the veracity of the milk driver’s report and returning to bed.
Under the terms of the plea deal, Mosher was given an entirely suspended 6-to-12 month sentence and placed on probation. He was also ordered to pay a $500 fine along with court surcharges and to perform community service. A special condition of Mosher’s probation requires him to allow officials to inspect his property and verify that the fences surrounding it have been upgraded.
This article first appeared in the June 6, 2017 edition of the Vermont Standard.