The driver of a tanker truck that killed U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Andrew Stevens in a January 2015 crash entered two guilty pleas Tuesday morning
Arlan Taft, 60, of Tioga, pleaded to two counts of reckless endangerment and a summary count just prior to the start of a jury trial in Susquehanna County.
With the plea deal, Taft avoided trial on the more serious charges of homicide by vehicle and involuntary manslaughter.
At the time of the crash, Taft was driving a water tanker truck down a steep hill and collided into Stevens’ Dodge Durango, which was stopped at the intersection of Routes 3004 and 29. After the impact, both the water truck and the Durango caught fire.
In a police interview following the crash, Taft told investigators he downshifted when he headed down the hill; then went to downshift again and missed the gear. The tanker began “freewheeling,” reducing his ability to brake.
Following the deadly crash, Springville Twp. requested a traffic safety study be conducted on the roadway. Since then, a speed advisory has been posted in the area reducing the speed of trucks on the downhill grade to 20 mph.
Taft has remained free on bail since his arrest two years ago. He is expected to appear again in the Susquehanna County Court of Common Pleas in October for sentencing.