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Plea Deal Reached in Logging Truck Death

A Newbury, Vt., truck driver who failed to secure a trailer that came loose and killed an Enfield man two years ago received a suspended jail sentence yesterday and lost his commercial driving license under a plea deal finalized in Grafton Superior Court.

Brewster Thurston, 53, received a one-year jail sentence that was suspended for four years on the condition of good behavior, had his commercial driver’s license suspended for seven years, and was ordered to pay restitution for funeral expenses for his role in the Route 4 collision that killed Richard Rouleau, 59, in February 2011.

“It was a terrible tragedy and my heart goes out to Mr. Rouleau’s widow,” Thurston’s attorney, Charlie Buttrey, said yesterday. “It’s something my client thinks about every day.”

Under the deal, finalized yesterday in Grafton Superior Court, Thurston can petition to have his license reinstated after three years. Buttrey said the loss of the license would hurt Thurston’s ability to earn a living.

Thurston was initially indicted on a charge of negligent homicide, which carried a seven-year maximum sentence authorities alleged Thurston failed to secure a log trailer to his 1996 Western Star Truck, allowing the trailer to break free while he was driving east on Route 4 and slide into the opposite lane, near the intersections of Route 4 and Route 4A in Lebanon.

There, the trailer slammed head-on into Rouleau’s van. Police at the scene said that Rouleau had no time to react. His van rolled over. Rouleau, who was only a few miles from his home, was not wearing a seat-belt.

Thurston had recently dropped off a shipment and was en route to reloading his truck at the time of the collision, police said. He was not injured in the collision.

Rouleau, a self-employed plumber, carpenter and electrician, had moved to Enfield only months prior to the collision to be with his new wife, Sandy Lea. She could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mark Davis can be reached at mcdavis@vnews.com or 603-727-3304.