Philip Wuonola, a 19-year-old Waltham man, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to motor vehicle homicide charges arising from a May crash that killed a 9-year-old boy. It is alleged that Wuonola ran a stop sign when he was delivering pizza for Domino’s.
Wuonola was arraigned in Waltham District Court and was released on personal recognizance. The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office told the Boston Globe that Wuonola was driving a 2002 Mazda Protégé when it collided with a Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV at a Waltham intersection. The SUV was overturned from the impact and the 9-year-old, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected and later pronounced dead at Newton Wellesley Hospital. The boy’s mother survived.
Wuonola’s attorney told the Globe that his client is traumatized and devastated by the death. The attorney also said that he will pursue the issue of whether the death was caused by the mother’s failure to use a seatbelt for the child or by the crash.
Although it is unclear from the article, this is may be a misdemeanor charge because there is no mention of the teen driver being under the influence or alcohol or drugs. If that is the case, then the maximum penalty that he would be facing is up to 2 1/2 years in jail or a house of correction or by a fine of at least $300 and up to $3,000, or both. To be convicted, the prosecutor will have to prove that Wuonola was operating the vehicle recklessly or negligently. It will be interesting to see how the attorney approaches this issue of the cause of the boy’s death. It is a smart and absolutely necessary issue to raise because the leading cause of death for children in accidents is lack of seatbelt use. The attorney will have to approach it with finesse and sensitivity if the case goes before a jury, though.
Source: The Boston Globe, Waltham man pleads not guilty to motor vehicle homicide charge
If you have been charged with motor vehicle homicide or any other Massachusetts crime, call Altman & Altman LLP at 617.492.3000 or 800.481.6199 or contact us online.