A crash that left two men dead in Farmington leads to a 15-day sentence for man deemed responsible.
FARMINGTON — Sunday will mark nine months since Jeffery Vandermaillie, 60, of Macedon, and his friend Allan D. Hallings, 55, of Fairport, were killed in a three-vehicle crash at a notorious intersection in the town of Farmington.
On Friday afternoon in Farmington Town Court, family members of the two men watched from the courtroom gallery as the man responsible for the brutal wreck received a sentence of 15 days in the Ontario County Jail.
After a jury trial last month, Jason Jensen, 39, was cleared of reckless driving but convicted of running a stop sign with his SUV at the intersection of Shortsville Road and County Road 28. The 15-day jail sentence was the maximum amount of time Jensen faced for the charge — a penalty that Ontario County Assistant District Attorney Nathan Thomas insisted to Judge Morris Lew during Friday’s appearance was the only penalty suitable for the father of five.
“Why would the legislature authorize 15 days in jail for running a stop sign?” Thomas asked the judge. “What could a driver have to do in order to deserve jail for running a stop sign?”
“That punishment was intended for this exact situation,” the prosecutor added. “Where somebody accidentally and carelessly, runs a stop sign and kills two people.”
The crash took place shortly after 3 p.m. March 11.
Ontario County sheriff’s deputies said Jensen’s 2004 Ford Explorer struck Mr. VanderMaillie’s northbound 2002 F-150 after traveling into the intersection without stopping. The impact pushed the pickup truck into a 2004 Chevy Malibu that was westbound on Shortsville Road, deputies said.
Court documents state that Jensen was driving at a speed of between 59 and 63 miles per hour at the time of the impact.
Jensen’s four children — ranging in age from 10 to 12 years old — were passengers in his vehicle, and were all treated at Strong Memorial Hospital. The driver of the Malibu, 62-year-old Nancy Potter, of Macedon, was treated at the crash scene and released.
Mr. VanderMaillie and Mr. Hallings, who were on their way back from a fishing trip on Seneca Lake, died on impact.
Before he addressed the courtroom on Friday afternoon, Thomas leaned posterboard sized images against a podium he stood behind to speak. The images, which faced the judge, included one of Mr. Hallings, smiling broadly with a fish he had just caught in his hands — a lake stretched out in the background behind him.
Another image captured Mr. Vandermaillie, embracing his cheerful granddaughter who sat on his knee. The grandfather’s eyes are closed in the photo. His chin rests on top of the smiling little girl’s head, and his thick arms are wrapped around her.
In pushing for the maximum sentence, Thomas then read notes to the judge prepared by the deceased men’s loved ones. At one point as he spoke, the prosecutor, overcome with emotion, turned away from the podium.
The letters described two loving fathers, brothers and uncles, who loved to be outdoors and, more than anything, loved their families.
“You’re the first man I’ve ever loved and that I’ll always love,” read the statement from Morgan Vandermaillie, Mr. Vandermaillie’s daughter. “Every night I lay in bed thinking about how I wasn’t done making memories with you yet. Every night, every second, I think about how much I miss you. … You will never be forgotten. You are so loved. As I grow older, and grow without you here, beside me, just know no matter whose love gives me happiness, I will always be daddy’s little girl.”
After reading the statements, Thomas acknowledged that he knows Jensen is sorry for the incident. The prosecutor also recognized that Jensen’s children were hurt in the wreck and that causing a crash that killed two men is something he’ll live with forever.
“But none of those consequences mitigate punishment that he deserves,” Thomas told the judge.
“I’m asking the court to remove Jason Jensen from his family for 15 days, so he can experience what it’s like to be without his loved ones,” the prosecutor concluded. “I’m asking you to show the defendant for 15 days, what Jeff and Al’s family will experience every day for the rest of their lives. Only then will the defendant truly understand what he caused. Only then will justice be truly served.”
Jensen’s defense attorney Joseph Dressner then spoke to Lew, at one point turning to the tearful family members grouped together in the courtroom gallery, and apologizing as his client requested.
He told the judge that his client did everything he could the day of the tragic incident — including cooperating with police and expressing remorse.
During the trial, several members of law enforcement who responded to the scene of the March 11 crash took the stand. Investigator Eric Woehr, of the Ontario County Sheriff’s Office, discussed a conversation he had with Jensen after the wreck, at which time Jensen explained that he had been talking to his daughter who was in the front seat of the SUV at the time he ran the stop sign.
Woehr added that he later overheard Jensen tell his girlfriend at the scene of the crash that he had “screwed up.”
Investigator Bill Wellman, of the Sheriff’s Office, also testified that Jensen told him while he was at Strong Memorial Hospital that he had “lost track of time” and that he did not see the stop sign. Wellman also said on the stand that Jensen seemed apologetic during their discussion at Strong.
Jensen was not on his cellphone at the time of the wreck, nor was he under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the violent impact — points that Dressner focused on during the trial.
Dressner also told the judge on Friday that sending Jensen to jail would not prevent the family from grieving.
“It’s not going to fix anything,” Dressner said. “It’s not going to make anything better.”
After hearing both statements from the lawyers, Lew took a five-minute recess before coming back to reveal his decision. At that time, the judge expressed agreement with Thomas’ previous sentiment.
“If ever there is a reason to sentence someone to jail for running a stop sign, this is it,” Lew told the expectant crowd. “I have to agree with that.”
“Having said that,” the judge continued, “let’s all understand that the defendant is already living the worst sentence he could possible have — a sentence that is much harsher than anything the court can impose.” Jensen's realization that he caused a crash that killed two men, Lew indicated, will serve as his life sentence.
Before the courthouse emptied out on Friday, Lew ordered Jensen to check himself into the Ontario County Jail on Friday evening. According to jail personnel, Jensen was at the facility at 6:30 p.m. Friday.