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Plea to lesser charges in fiery fatal I-83 crash
A former truck driver who caused a fiery fatal mattress-related crash on Interstate 83 at the North George Street entrance in 2013 has pleaded guilty to summary violations.
Michael Grandmaison pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of careless driving — one count for killing Brian "Tim" Jacobs and the other count for injuring another driver.
In exchange for his plea, charges of vehicular homicide, aggravated assault by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment were dismissed, according to court records.
Grandmaison and Milton Martinez were charged nearly two years after the crash, but in April a York County judge acting on a defense motion threw out the case against Martinez.
The crash: Jacobs, 46, of Franklin Township, was driving a service truck north on I-83, just north of the North George Street exit (Exit 22) on Feb. 21, 2013, when he had to stop for traffic. That's because one of three mattresses tied to Martinez's truck fell off and landed on the highway, state police have said.
Grandmaison was driving a tractor-trailer behind Jacobs and failed to stop in time. His truck slammed into the back of Jacobs' truck and pushed it on top of the service truck in front of it, driven by Gordon Myers of Lewisberry, police said.
Myers suffered injuries but survived, according to police, who said both those service trucks were owned by S&W Petroleum Services of Dillsburg.
The crash caused a massive fireball that engulfed Jacobs' truck and backed up traffic for many miles over the course of about eight hours, officials have said.
Jacobs likely died of his injuries before fire consumed his work truck, according to the York County Coroner's Office.
Grandmaison, 54, of Clinton, Maine, told police he was trying to place a cup of soda back into his center console when he looked up, at which point he said it was too late for him to stop, police have said.
Martinez, 51, of Harrisburg, had used clothesline-type rope or string to tie three mattresses to the bed of his pickup truck, which prosecutors had alleged he should have known was reckless. A judge later threw out Martinez's charges after determining there was not sufficient evidence for him to stand trial.
Fined: After pleading guilty to the two summary violations, Grandmaison was fined a total of $750, according to his Harrisburg-based attorney, Douglas Marsico.
"I said from the very beginning that ... this was negligent, not criminal," the attorney said. "This was a sudden stopping of traffic — one of these domino effects."
Grandmaison simply couldn't stop in time, according to Marsico.
"After this accident, he was so upset about it he gave up truck driving for a living, even though he'd done it for 20 years," Marsico said. "He works in a shoe factory now."
State and federal regulations would have required a one-year suspension of Grandmaison's commercial driver's license, the attorney noted, but Grandmaison was so upset he chose to leave the profession entirely.
'Emotional': Jacobs' brother was in court Monday for the plea and sentencing, according to Marsico.
"He thought this was the appropriate result, and even spent time with my client afterward," the attorney said. "They had a nice moment together. ... Some tears were shed. It was emotional between the two of them."
Senior deputy prosecutor Sarah Buhite could not immediately be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
Jacobs' survivors included his fiancee and their then-2-year-old daughter. One of his bosses told The York Dispatch at the time that Jacobs' whole world revolved around his little girl.
A 1985 graduate of Northern High School, Jacobs wrestled and played football. He was to be inducted into the Northern wrestling hall of fame, according to the obituary.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at email@example.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.