Cheshire woman avoids jail in 2016 crash that killed Bethany man, 18

NEW HAVEN >> A woman who was driving under the influence of alcohol when her car struck and killed a Bethany teenager on Christmas night 2015 has avoided prison time.

Barbara Ann Ross of Cheshire, who was 60 at the time, struck Robert Weidig Jr., 18, on Route 69 in Bethany as he walked with a friend to a Christmas music-and-dance event.

Ross was charged with illegally operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and failure to drive in the proper lane. She pleaded no contest to the first charge.

Superior Court Judge Melanie Cradle imposed a sentence of six months, execution suspended, and eight months of probation on the first charge. The second charge was nolled.

Ross was ordered to pay a $500 fine and make restitution of up to $8,000 for the Weidig family’s funeral expenses. The other conditions of the sentence included requiring that she do 100 hours of community service, attend a victim impact panel, undergo a substance-abuse evaluation and not drive until her suspended driver’s license is restored by the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

When reached for comment on the sentence, Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney David Strollo noted Ross had no previous criminal record. Strollo also quoted the Connecticut state trooper who investigated the collision saying that even a sober person could not have avoided hitting Weidig.

“Both a witness and the debris on the scene put him in the travel portion of the road,” Strollo said.

“Cars were parked along the road; we don’t know if that blocked her visibility because the cars were moved after it happened,” Strollo said. “A witness said they (Weidig and a friend) were walking in and out of the cars.”

“There was no indication she was speeding,” Strollo added.

The most important factor in the case’s disposition, Strollo noted: “I didn’t find her intoxication was a contributing factor to his death. The state couldn’t prove the intoxication caused his death beyond a reasonable doubt.”

But attorney James Nugent, who represents the victim’s mother, Cindy Weidig, disputed Strollo’s statement that Weidig was in the travel portion of the road when he was hit. Nugent made his comments outside of the courtroom.

“No one puts him in the travel portion of the road except the trooper,” Nugent said. “He says he must have been in the travel portion because she hit him. But the person Bobby was walking with says he was not in the travel portion. It’s very upsetting that this allegation is made without any foundation for such a statement.”

Nugent said the mother told the judge she did not want Ross to go to prison. “Nor would it have been her son’s desire to see Barbara Ross incarcerated,” Nugent added. “He was a loving, kind soul and he would forgive anyone.”

But Nugent said he will file a civil lawsuit on behalf of the family against Ross.

“She made a horrible decision on Christmas Day: drinking and getting behind the wheel of a car and killing Bobby Weidig at the ripe age of 18 years young,” Nugent said.

Nugent noted the burden of proof in a civil case is not as high as in a criminal one. He said he is confident he can show “that had she been sober, Bobby would be alive today.”

Ross’ attorney, Steven Walsh, said, “It’s a tragic situation for everybody involved. She (Ross) is devastated by it. Her heart goes out to his family and friends.”

Weidig’s friends had circulated a petition calling for additional charges to be filed against Ross. The signers praised his character and noted he had suffered the death of his father in the year preceding his own death.

Call Randall Beach at 203-680-9345.