Auto Service World
Feature   October 19, 2010   by CARS Magazine

Penn. technician found guilty of manslaughter in fatal crash case

Woman dies after tech neglects to check minivans brakes

A Pittsburgh area automotive technician accused of failing to make brake repairs to a school van which led to a fatal crash was recently found guilty on all five counts against him, including involuntary manslaughter.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the jury deliberated for less than 90 minutes before returning its verdict against Mark Fabian, 35.

Fabian was a technician for A-1 Transit Inc. On Sept. 3, 2008, one of the drivers for the company, who drove a minivan with two special needs children on it, complained that the brakes on the Dodge Caravan weren’t working properly after her morning trip. When she returned for her afternoon shift, she was told the van had been repaired. She took the van to make the return trip with the two boys, ages 6 and 10, as well as a student aide.

But after making her pickup, the driver lost braking power in the van. She attempted to stop by driving into a grassy area, but struck a tree.

The student aide, Colleen Visconti, 53, of Bellevue, Penn., died from injuries she sustained in the crash nine days later.

Fabian’s attorney tried to blame the tragedy on the driver.

Though there was never any testimony that Logan had done anything wrong – in fact, she was never cited for any violation related to the crash – attorney Jack Dean told jurors that maybe her actions caused the fatal accident.

“Did Jennifer really have a brake problem in the first place?” Dean asked in his closing argument. “Or did she lose control because she was driving too fast?”

But Assistant District Attorney Robert Schupansky minced no words in blaming the crash on the failure of Fabian to do his job.

“It is insulting for a lawyer to stand here and say Jennifer Logan, the driver of this vehicle, is at fault,” Schupansky said. “Had [Fabian] done something, we wouldn’t be here. Just do something, for crying out loud.”

The prosecution accused Fabian of faking a work order, in which he claimed to have worked on the minivan’s brakes. But according to Pittsburgh Police, who investigated the accident, Fabian did not perform any work on the brakes. In fact, he may not have even examined them. After the accident, investigators said brake fluid was found inside the engine.

Fabian was convicted on one count of involuntary manslaughter and four counts of recklessly endangering another person. He will be sentenced on Dec. 1.


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