One of the drivers involved in a fatal Fourth of July car crash is being charged with motor vehicle homicide.
Thomas C. Jones, 53, is scheduled to be arraigned at the Edgartown courthouse Friday, Nov. 30 on two counts of motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation and one count of negligent operation of a motor vehicle. The charges come from a car accident that led to the deaths of his son, Seth Jones, 26, and Seth’s girlfriend, Heather Laflamme, 21.
According to a report by state police trooper David Parent filed in court, Mr. Jones was driving a Jeep Wrangler northbound on Barnes Road with his wife, Margaret, in the front seat, and Seth and Ms. Laflamme in the backseat. The family was renting a house in Edgartown, and they were being followed by a car of family and friends. After debating whether to go to the Tisbury cemetery or the Edgartown parade, the report said, Mr. Jones moved to the right hand side of the road and made a U-turn to reverse direction.
A Volkwagen Tiguan driving behind the vehicle collided with the left side of the Jeep as it made the U-turn.
Preliminary calculations for the accident indicated the Tiguan was traveling at 68 miles per hour, and the Jeep was traveling at 17 miles per hour.
Seth Jones and Ms. Laflamme were not wearing seat belts and were ejected from the vehicle, the report said, sustaining serious injuries. They were transported to hospitals off-Island. Ms. Laflamme, a rising senior and dean’s list student at the University of New Hampshire, died three days later at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Seth Jones, a Marine who served active duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, died about two weeks later at Beth Israel Hospital. In both cases, cause of death was listed as injuries resulting from the crash.
The driver of the Tiguan, Benjamin Johnson, 19, of Cambridge, sustained minor injuries. He was issued a citation for speeding.
Based on accident reconstruction, evidence and interviews with witnesses, “It is my opinion that this collision was operator error, by the operator of the Jeep, Mr. Thomas Jones,” the complaint said, adding that “the speed of the Volkswagen was a contributing factor in the crash.”
“When Mr. [Jones] pulled into the roadway without looking he operated his vehicle in a way so that the lives and safety of the public might be endangered,” the report read, adding that the maneuver was “ultimately responsible for the death of Heather LaFlamme and Seth Jones (Mr. Thomas Jones’ son).”
A show cause hearing held on Oct. 26 by clerk magistrate Liza Williamson found cause to charge Mr. Thomas Jones for the offenses. Ms. Williamson did not find cause for a fourth charge, failure to yield at an intersection.
If Mr. Jones is found guilty on the motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation charges, he could face between 30 days and two and a half years in a jail or a house of correction, fines between $300 and $3,000, and a 15-year revocation of his license.