… Tears flow at sentencing for man who killed three in 2009 crash …
By Rachel Konopacki of The Aegis
Harford County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Marshall’s courtroom was filled with tears and heartbreaking stories of lost loved ones Friday morning.
Family members of three victims killed by Travis Nelson Gray in a drunk driving accident in 2009 gave their witness statements before the courtroom during Gray’s sentencing hearing.
Peter Bielanski, whose mother Pamela and father James were killed in the accident, fought back tears as he talked about the devastating loss of his parents.
“I have lost the two people who have taught me everything I know,” he said.
Brooke Arbogast, 16, whose father Robert William Arbogast was killed in the accident shared memories about her father and how much she loves him.
“I have some really good memories with him and I’m upset I won’t have anymore … I didn’t just lose a father, I lost a best friend too,” she said, before breaking down into tears.
Gray, 32, of the 3500 block of Day Road in Darlington, pleaded guilty in January to three charges of negligent homicide while under the influence before his trial was scheduled to start in the county’s circuit court.
He was sentenced Friday to a 15- year prison sentence with five years suspended and 10 consecutive years to actually serve. He was also sentenced to five years probation.
In exchange for the guilty plea, the state dismissed eight other counts of the indictment it brought against Gray following the accident.
During probation, Gray must not consume alcohol; be evaluated by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; enter into any counseling programs recommended by his probation officer; participate in random drug and alcohol tests at the discretion of his probation officer; get an alcohol restriction on his driver’s license; have an ignition interlock on any vehicle that he drives; and pay restitution in an amount to be determined to the families of the victims.
Gray, in tears, also delivered a statement to the friends and families of his three victims.
“Words cannot express how sorry I am for what has happened,” he said, adding that if he would have traded places with the three victims that night and to this day. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about what has happened and it haunts me.”
On Nov. 14, 2009, Gray was driving a 2002 Ford F250 pickup north on Route 543 near Prospect Road in the Street area of northern Harford.
Around 4:39 a.m. Nov. 14, Gray was driving north on Route 543, Ady Road, just south of Prospect Road when he crossed the double yellow centerline and hit a truck full of people heading south.
he three occupants of the truck, James Bielanski, 48, and his wife, Pamela Bielanski, 47, and Robert William Arbogast, 35, were killed. The three victims, all of Street, were setting out on a hunting trip that morning.
At the scene, Gray’s eyes were bloodshot and he told police he had three or four beers and initially refused to say where, according to statements from Deputy State’s Attorney H. Scott Lewis at Gray’s plea hearing in January.
Police obtained Gray’s bar receipt from Old School Tavern on Route 1 in Dublin and that Gray later admitted to drinking alcoholic beverages at the tavern before the accident, according to Lewis.
Results of Gray’s blood test indicated his blood alcohol level at the time of the accident was .27, according to Lewis. The Maryland legal limit is .08.
Last June 2, the Harford County Liquor Control Board fined Old School Tavern $6,000 and issued two seven-day suspensions for three violations that took place during the early morning hours of Nov. 14, 2009, the same morning as the triple-fatal accident.
Licensees James B. Lunney Jr., Deborah A. Lunney and James B. Lunney V were found in violation of allowing an employee or licensee to consume alcohol while on duty; selling, offering or dispensing alcohol after 2 a.m.; allowing alcohol to be consumed after 2:15 a.m.; and allowing alcohol to remain on tables or counters after 2:30 a.m.
At the time of the liquor violation hearing, the board members, on the advice of the board administrator, did not make any references to the fatal accident.
The licensees appealed the fines and suspensions to the circuit court, where the matter is still pending. Oral arguments for the appeal are scheduled for April 14 in the county’s circuit court.
Gray received probation before judgment, a finding of guilt, in 2001 in connection with a drinking and driving offense that occurred in 1999, according to Maryland’s online court records.
For more about the Gray sentencing and what was said in court, check back on exploreharford.com Monday or see this Wednesday’s print edition of The Aegis.