A jury found a Norwalk man guilty Wednesday of vehicular manslaughter in the Feb. 2 head-on collision that killed New London resident Nicole L. Osterland.
The five women and three men deliberated about two hours before convicting Brian K. Wilson, 40, of 4677 Ohio 601, of vehicular manslaughter. He faces up to 90 days in the Huron County Jail, a $750 fine and a three-year driver's license suspension when he is sentenced Sept. 25. Norwalk Law Director Stuart O'Hara said he will get input from Osterland's family before formulating a recommendation.
Osterland, 27, was heading southeast on U.S. 250 between Norwalk and Olena when her Ford pickup truck collided with Wilson's 2006 International tractor-trailer. Witnesses, including state troopers, in the Norwalk Municipal Court trial testified it had been snowing and the wind was blowing, causing "white-out" conditions.
"Miss Osterland was operating her vehicle in her lane of travel with no problem," O'Hara said, saying Wilson went left of center.
"She died as a result of the injuries she received. This is truly a tragic case," O'Hara told the jury in his opening statement.
"The only traffic offense they'll say (Wilson) committed was traveling left of center," defense attorney Curtis Koch said about O'Hara's case.
Koch presented no witnesses during the 2 1/2 hour trial. He said there was a "compromised crime scene" because fire trucks and ambulances possibly obscured the tracks from the collision and accused witnesses of not being sure Wilson crossed the center line.
Motorist Kimberly Alley followed Wilson's semi from Ashland on her way to Toledo and was the second vehicle behind the truck when the crash happened about 3:45 p.m. She testified patches of snow had blown onto the road.
"I had no problem driving," Alley said. "You could definitely tell where the lanes were supposed to be."
She testified Wilson was able to negotiate U.S. 250 until the collision and right before the crash, he crossed the center line twice and straightened his truck the first time.
"I recall seeing the semi begin to swerve. ... He did go over the yellow line," Alley said. "It looked like it (Wilson's cab) was three-quarters into the (opposite) lane.
"The pickup flew off the road," she said.
Steve Lafountain directly followed Wilson's truck all the way from Ashland. He said the semi "started swerving slightly" once and then went "half to three-quarters" into Ostlerland's lane.
"It went clearly on the other side," added Lafountain, who described the weather as "more drifting, than snowing."
Trooper Montei Sexton of the state Highway Patrol's Norwalk post was the investigating officer. He said he arrived at site about 20 minutes after the collision, having been advised by patrol dispatcher it "was probably a fatality."
Osterland's truck was off the left side of U.S. 250 when Sexton arrived. The trooper testified the woman was in the back seat of the extended cab, "not making any movements."
Wilson was outside of his tractor-trailer when Sexton got there. "He said he felt the trailer was being moved" and the collision happened when he looked into his mirror, the trooper testified.
Sexton said he saw the semi's tire tracks and various vehicle fluids in places on the road that were consistent with a head-on collision. The trooper also saw the hood to Wilson's truck in Osterland's lane.
"There was small debris pretty much everywhere," he added.
Osterland, who was born in Norwalk, lived her entire life in the New London area. The 1998 New London High School graduate worked as a lab technician in quality control at Polyone in Norwalk.