Yale tailgate investigation continues

Updated: November 20, 2011, 5:59 PM ET
Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. -- A rented U-Haul that struck and killed a Massachusetts tailgater at a Yale-Harvard football game malfunctioned as a Yale undergraduate drove the vehicle into a crowded parking lot, the student's attorney said Sunday.

William Dow, representing Yale student Brendan Ross, said Saturday's collision was a "tragic accident that appears to be the result of a vehicle malfunction." He did not elaborate and said Ross would not be speaking publicly about what happened.

But Ross and his family wanted to express their condolences to the three people who were hit by the truck, Dow said, including 30-year-old Nancy Barry of Salem, Mass., who was killed.

Barry suffered fatal injuries at the scene near the Yale Bowl. Sarah Short, 31, a Yale student from New Haven, remained hospitalized Sunday with leg injuries. Elizabeth Dernbach, 23, a Harvard employee originally from Naples, Fla., was treated for her injuries Saturday and released.

Ross passed a field sobriety test after the collision Saturday and police said he has been cooperative in their investigation, which remained open Sunday. No charges had been filed.

Police say Ross was driving the U-Haul carrying beer kegs through a popular tailgating area before the Yale-Harvard game when witnesses saw the vehicle turn a corner and speed up, striking Barry and injuring the other two women. The truck then crashed into other U-Haul vans on the lot.

The Yale Daily News reported Sunday that the U-Haul was heading to a tailgate party for Sigma Phi Epsilon, the fraternity of which Ross is a member and where police listed his address.

A spokesman for the Yale chapter referred questions to the national Sigma Phi Epsilon headquarters, which was sending a representative to Yale over the weekend. A statement from the Richmond, Va.-based fraternity Sunday said it was "deeply saddened by the tragic accident," and referred questions to New Haven police.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. The fraternity is currently working with law enforcement officials as they investigate the details of exactly what happened," the statement read.

Yale put its mental health counselors and chaplain's office on alert to work with students and faculty who seek help, and said its Dean's Office and Yale Athletics plan to undertake a full review of policies and regulations on tailgating.

Harvard also issued a statement expressing its sympathy for those involved.

New Haven police said their investigation will include a forensic review of the rented U-Haul truck, a review of witness statements and other work before they can determine whether anyone should face charges. The truck was impounded as part of the investigation.

At the annual Yale-Harvard game, tailgating is nearly as storied as the competition itself. Elaborate buffets dot the parking lots, and fans frequently fill U-Haul trucks with kegs, grills and hard alcohol.

Six years ago, Yale began shutting down all parties after halftime in an effort to curb binge drinking and keep students and alumni safe. Saturday's fans had gathered for the 128th game of the Ivy League rivalry, which Harvard won 45-7 for its fifth straight victory over Yale.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

SPONSORED HEADLINES

EDITORS' PICKS

ALSO SEE

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES