Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rockford man sentenced to jail for trailer accident that killed 46-year-old woman

Rockford man sentenced to jail for trailer accident that killed 46-year-old woman

By Nate Reens | The Grand Rapids Press

April 27, 2010, 3:10PM

Thomas DellsUPDATE: 'We all lose' says crash victim's partner after man sentenced to jail for out-of-control trailer

GRAND RAPIDS -- A Rockford man will serve up to 4 1/2 months in jail for failing to properly secure a trailer he was hauling when it came unhinged and hit an oncoming SUV, killing Toni Hall, a 46-year-old grandmother.

Kent County Circuit Court Judge Donald Johnston on Tuesday ordered Thomas Dells to the incarceration stint for the Oct. 28 crash on 10 Mile Road NE, east of Myers Lake Avenue in Courtland Township.

Dells pleaded no contest to a negligent homicide charge, an offense punishable by up to two years in jail. The plea is not an admission of guilt but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.

Dells had used duct tape as one means of securing the trailer, which he was using to haul items from a foreclosed home.

The trailer came loose from Dells' van and became airborne, flying over a car following Dells and hitting the windshield of the sedan driven by Hall.

Before sentencing, the victim's daughter told Johnston of her pain from her Hall's death.

"No matter what happens here, he is still the winner," Tiffany Drye said. "All I'm left with is an emptiness only a mother can fill."

Debra Carter, who was in the car with Hall at the time of the crash, said her injuries linger, including brain and nerve damage.

"This crash caused many who loved her a lifelong journey of pain and suffering," Carter said.

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