Pizza delivery driver sentenced for accident that killed two

March 19, 2003

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Pizza delivery driver Jon B. Schneider, whose vehicle hit a minivan during a delivery run on Nov. 29, was convicted of reckless driving for the accident, which killed two 5-year-old girls.

According to the Virginian-Pilot, Schneider, then an employee of Chanello's Pizza, was sentenced to 60 days on March 19.

General District Judge Robert Carter sentenced Schneider to 360 days in jail, but suspended all but 60 days. He also ordered that Schneider's driver's license be suspended for 90 days and that he pay a $250 fine.

Schneider, who is a U.S. Army sergeant, is appealing the ruling and remains free on a $2,500 personal recognizance bond.

The victims' parents expressed their anger at Schneider during the sentencing hearing. Sybil Haynes, whose daughter, Julia, died in the accident, told him, "You killed our daughter and destroyed our lives. You didn't just kill two little girls that night. You crushed two families."

Rob Burlingame, whose daughter, Rebecca, also died in the crash, told the court he thought the sentence was too light. "The least you can do is put him in jail for a year. I don't want to see him walking out of here today in anything but handcuffs."

A few days earlier, lawyers for the victims' families filed lawsuits in Norfolk Circuit Court against Schneider and Chanello's Pizza, seeking $15 million in damages from both defendants.

The lawsuits claim Schneider was speeding at the time of the accident, and that since he was driving for Chanello's, the company is responsible for its employee's actions.

While witnesses to the accident said Schneider ran a red light, Virginia Beach police officers testified he had not been drinking or speeding. Officer Brian S. Watson, a police crash expert, testified Schneider was traveling about 45 mph, the posted speed limit, when the accident occurred.

Commonwealth's Attorney Harvey L. Bryant III determined in December that there was insufficient evidence to charge Schneider with manslaughter. To justify a manslaughter charge in Virginia, the commonwealth must demonstrate that a suspect showed a reckless disregard for human life, Bryant said.

Topics: Crime

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