Driver In Fatal Rt. 4 Crash Pleads Guilty To 2 Traffic Violations
State police say there was no evidence of reckless conduct on Sept. 28 when Benjamin Servideo's car rear-ended Sullynette Sanchez's car, killing her and the baby she was carrying.
The driver in a fatal crash on Route 4 in East Greenwich on Sept. 29, 2012, pleaded guilty to two traffic violations Thursday morning at the R.I. Traffic Tribunal in Cranston.
Benjamin Servideo, 24, of Newport, will be sentenced on Feb. 26 for failing to respond to conditions requiring reduced speed and failing to maintain control of his car. A third violation, failing to maintain adequate space between vehicles, was dropped.
Servideo's car rear-ended the car driven by Sullynette Sanchez, 23, of Providence, who was 8 months pregnant. Sanchez died on the way to the hospital. Her baby, a boy, was born afterwards but only lived for two weeks.
Asst. Attorney General Stephen Regine said the state police found no evidence to bring criminal charges. Servideo was not seen to have been driving erractically, he was not found to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and he was not using his cell phone at the time of the crash.
The accident took place at around 4 p.m. on a rainy September afternoon, on Route 4 north just south of the Frenchtown Road overpass.
According to Regine, using information from crash date retrieval boxes in both cars, state police learned Servideo and Sanchez were traveling at normal highway speeds (59 mph and 58 mph, respectively) just seconds before the crash.
The driver in front of Sanchez told state police he slowed down after seeing brake lights ahead of him. Sanchez also slowed and was going 28 mph at the time of the crash. A half-second before the crash, Servideo was going 58 mph.
Servideo told state police at the scene he had taken his eyes off the road because his wallet had fallen from the dashboard to the floor near his feet.
Regine said that momentary look away from the road – "that 1.7 seconds" – was the cause of the accident.
Servideo's cell phone was confiscated at the hospital after the accident and, Regine said, the last text message was sent at 9:28 the morning of the accident. He did make two short calls 20 minutes before the crash, but there was no indication of phone activity after 3:40 p.m.
"There was no evidence ... that he embarked on any course of conduct with heedless indifference," Regine said.
At the request of R.I. Traffic Tribunal Chief Magistrate William R. Guglietta, Regine then read into the record what resulted from the crash.
As members of Sanchez's family and friends cried, Regine spoke of her death on the way to the hospital. "Based upon the crash, doctors had to perform immediate surgery to give birth to the baby who was born, survived, but ultimately deceased," he said.
Those family and friends had gathered outside the Traffic Tribunal building on Reservoir Avenue in Cranston, bearing photos of both Sanchez and her baby, Daryel Noah.