Teen pleads guilty in crash that killed man

HUDSON–Lars C. Haas, 18, of New Lebanon pleaded guilty to second degree vehicular manslaughter, second degree vehicular assault and driving while intoxicated in connection with a September 25, 2009 fatal auto accident at the intersection of Routes 22 and 295 in Canaan.

The teen’s mother still faces charges for allegedly allowing her son and other minors to drink alcohol with her at home before the crash.

 

The charges against Mr. Haas were contained in a Superior Court Information and he admitted to them in Columbia County Court when he appeared with his attorney Gennaro Calabrese of the Albany law firm of Kindlon and Shanks before Judge Jonathan Nichols May 25, according to Chief Assistant District Attorney Michael Cozzolino, who also said Mr. Haas waived his right to a Grand Jury hearing.

Mr. Haas was driving his mother’s 2008 Pontiac Vibe northbound on Route 22 when he failed to stop for a red light at the Route 295 intersection at 8:43 p.m.

An investigation by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office revealed that Mr. Haas sped up as he approached the intersection and even passed several vehicles before ignoring a red light and crashing into the side of a 2001 GMC pickup truck driven by Robert Meehan, 72, of Chatham, who was headed west on Route 295 and had a green light.

Not wearing a seatbelt, Mr. Meehan was thrown from his truck by the accident impact.

He succumbed to his injuries, which included a broken sternum, broken vertebrae, broken ribs, a dislocated hip and severe head trauma, at the Albany Medical Center November 14, 2009.

A backseat passenger in the Haas vehicle, Alesha O’Dell, 17 at the time, of Old Chatham, was seriously injured in the crash, suffering neck fractures. She is still undergoing treatment for her injuries, said the Chief ADA Cozzolino.

Ms. O’Dell and her parents, along with Mr. Meehan’s widow and son, were present in court.

Sentencing is set for July 20. The vehicular manslaughter charged is a class D felony punishable by a maximum sentence of 2 1/3 to 7 years in state prison and the vehicular assault charge is a class E felony punishable by 1 1/3 to 4 years behind bars. There are also fines associated with the charges and the sentences must be served concurrently under the law because they are associated with one crash, said Mr. Cozzolino, noting the prosecution plans to seek the maximum sentences.

Mr. Haas remains free on $50,000 bail and is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle.

The charges against his mother, Susan Haas, 52, of New Lebanon, which are three counts of unlawfully dealing with a child, for allegedly allowing three teenagers to drink alcoholic beverages in her presence, are still pending in New Lebanon Court.

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