Truck driver found guilty in crash that killed Vining, Minn., teen
FERGUS FALLS, Minn.—The semi truck driver who struck and killed a 16-year-old Vining boy a little over a year ago was found guilty Thursday, July 19, in Otter Tail County Court.
A jury found Jason Vadner, 36, of Wheaton guilty of criminal vehicular homicide and misdemeanor careless driving for a head-on crash that killed Henning/Vining sophomore Jacob Quam April 13, 2017 as the teen was on his way to school.
Although Vadner estimated to authorities that he was going 52 mph at the time of the crash, an expert that reviewed the truck's black box testified that he was in fact going at least 59 mph during the crash. Although that stretch of road along Highway 210 is a 60-mph zone, conditions were foggy that morning, and the Minnesota State Patrol report stated Vadner was driving too fast for the conditions. In a statement to the State Patrol following the crash, Vadner told authorities he was not distracted but simply trying to find the road when he "looked up and saw headlights."
Two State Patrol troopers and a witness who had been following behind Vadner at the time of the crash all stated that although it was foggy, they were always able to see the road lines and had no problem staying within their lanes. The driver behind Vadner also stated that when she noticed Vadner swerving, crossing the center and fog line a couple of times prior to the crash, she backed off, not knowing "what was going on" with the truck driver. She testified that Vadner then swerved completely into the traffic of the oncoming lane, striking Quam's car head-on.
Vadner tested negative for drugs and alcohol the morning of the crash.
Vadner was hired by CPC Logistics, a shipping partner for Sara Lee Bread. Although he did have a valid commercial driving license at the time of the crash, his driving privileges had been suspended or revoked seven times over the past 18 years prior to the crash, including losing his commercial driver's license for a year in 2009 for drunken driving and careless driving.
Vadner did not take the stand during his two-day trial; the jury deliberated for just over two hours before reaching a verdict.
Sentencing is set for Aug. 24 at 2 p.m.