Saturday November 3, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A teen involved in a February one-car crash that resulted in his friend having part of his leg amputated pleaded guilty on Friday in Central Berkshire District Court to a single count of reckless operation of a motor vehicle. He was sentenced to one year of probation and 50 hours of community service.

As part of the sentence handed down by the judge, Nicholas W. Swain, 18, of Toronita Avenue, must speak to other high school students about the dangers of reckless driving.

Just after midnight on Feb. 4, the Lanesborough Police responded to a reported accident on the Route 7 and 8 Connector Road by the Berkshire Mall. A 2003 black Nissan Sentra driven by Swain had smashed into a guardrail at about 90 mph, crushing the driver’s side door and rear passenger side of the vehicle.

Swain and Matt Driscoll, 17, of Highland Avenue, were trapped inside the car, while a third teen, Donald Smith, 17, of Broadway Street, was ejected from the car, but only suffered minor injuries.

Connor Ryan, 17, of Beaumont Street, was also a passenger in the vehicle. He was able to get out of the car and suffered some lacerations to his face, according to a police report.

It took firefighters about 90 minutes to remove the vehicle’s roof and get Swain and Driscoll out of the car.

Both men were rushed to the hospital. Driscoll endured 10 surgeries on his left leg, which was eventually partially amputated, prosecutor Joseph Yorlano told the court on Friday.

The Berkshire assistant district attorney said the victim’s parents asked that Swain not receive jail time in the case. Driscoll and his parents were in court but did not give a statement to the court.

Attorney Mark T. Brennan, representing Swain, called it "a real tragedy" and said his client was extremely sorry for his actions. This was reiterated by Swain who told the judge he was sorry and that he took responsibility for what happened.

Swain also spent several weeks in the hospital, according to Brennan.

Judge Fredric D. Rutberg ordered Swain to serve a year of probation, in line with the request of the DA’s office, and perform 50 hours of community service, at least part of which, said the judge, must be spent speaking to other high school students about his experience.

He must also refrain from driving for six months and take a driver education class. Swain is a senior at Taconic High School.