FORT WAYNE – Gary Golay is a big man and even without the beard depicted in his mug shot, the 57-year-old Ohio man seemed to fill his half of the table in the Allen County courtroom.
But the 280-pound truck driver clutched a tissue in his hand, crying as he admitted guilt in causing a July 2012 crash on U.S. 30 that killed a 4-year-old girl.
Originally charged with 18 counts – ranging from infractions for speeding and following too closely to the most-serious felony charge of reckless homicide – Golay pleaded guilty to 11 charges Thursday in Allen Superior Court.
According to court documents, Golay was hauling auto parts for Honda, heading west on U.S. 30 out of Fort Wayne in the middle of a sunny afternoon July 27, 2012.
As he approached the intersection at Kroemer Road, four vehicles were stopped at the light ahead of him. Golay barreled into the back of the vehicles at about 60 mph without braking in the slightest, according to court documents.
Further investigation by Fort Wayne police and the Indiana State Police revealed Golay falsified his log books and had been driving outside the legal limits of what the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration allows for over-the-road truck drivers.
“By working for such extended periods of time he was able to dramatically increase his income, however he was accumulating his lack of rest as each day passed by,” a Fort Wayne police officer wrote in the probable cause affidavit.
The crash killed Abigail Little, 4, and injured five others.
During Thursday's hearing, Golay occasionally rocked back and forth in his seat as Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull asked him about his intent to plead guilty and what happened in the case.
As she read off the 11 charges, asking Golay how he wanted to plead, he answered quietly “guilty” to each one.
He pleaded guilty to one count of reckless homicide and eight counts of criminal recklessness, all felonies. He also admitted to a misdemeanor charge of false informing and the infraction of federal motor carrier safety regulation violation.
As part of the plea agreement with prosecutors, Golay will be given a suspended seven-year prison sentence with five years to be served on probation. The first two years of his sentence will be served on home detention, according to court documents. The most serious charge he pleaded guilty to, a Class C felony, calls for three to eight years in prison.
Golay agrees to “not operate a motor vehicle of any kind in any jurisdiction” during the five years of his probation. He agreed not to seek a hardship driver's license from any jurisdiction.
Golay must also complete 200 hours of community service.
His driver's license is also suspended for five years on the reckless homicide charge and six months on each of the criminal recklessness charges, but it's unclear in court documents when those suspensions begin.
Because the Ohio county where he resides does not have home detention, Golay will have to move in order to complete that portion of his probation.
He will be sentenced in July.