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House arrest set in fiery crash

2 killed, 7 injured in trucker’s path; plea deal offered


– A trucker involved in a fiery New Haven crash that left two people dead and seven others injured will likely face little prison time.

Instead of a long stint behind bars, 51-year-old Scott A. Saunders will be living on house arrest and be forbidden to drive a vehicle of any kind for years.

Saunders, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, appeared in Allen Superior Court dressed in orange jail garb and shackles.

The charges stem from the aftermath of a six-vehicle wreck he caused Jan. 8, 2013. That crash occurred at U.S. 30 and Doyle Road on New Haven’s east side, where Saunders slammed his semi into a line of vehicles stopped at a traffic light.

If a plea agreement he made with Allen County prosecutors is accepted, he’ll be sentenced to one year in prison and six years on probation – the first three years of which he’ll spend in a home detention program – and not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle during that time.

Saunders has been in Allen County Jail since January after charges were filed against him.

In a brief hearing Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless homicide and six counts of criminal recklessness.

He replied to questions with short answers, saying he was “guilty” when asked what his plea was to each charge against him.

Saunders admitted he was following traffic too closely as he approached the light at Doyle before the crash.

He failed to slow down or stop as the light turned from red to green. His semi and trailer then slammed into cars in front of him, causing a chain reaction that left two women dead.

Suzanne K. Stephenson, 65, of Monroeville, and Sandra Dealey, 43, of Convoy, both died of blunt-force trauma.

In the aftermath, a batch of lawsuits were filed against Saunders and his trucking company, Kutlzer Express. At least three of those lawsuits had been settled as of late last year.

If the plea agreement is accepted at his sentencing hearing next month, Saunders will also have his license revoked for five years for each of the two reckless homicide counts and will have to perform 200 hours of community service.

Saunders is scheduled to be sentenced next month.