Police charge man in crash that killed teen


Indianapolis truck driver held on $1 million bond

Standing with his attorney Ioannis (John) Kaloidid, left, and court-appointed translator, Ahjaz Sethi, right, Jasvir Singh, the driver of a tractor trailer involved in a crash on Interstate 84 in Waterbury in 2016 that killed 19-year-old Casey Lynne Giannone of Beacon Falls, appeared in Waterbury Superior Court on Tuesday. -JIM SHANNON/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

WATERBURY — A semi-truck driver was allegedly talking on his cellphone before a collision that caused a fiery, chain-reaction crash on Interstate-84 that killed a Beacon Falls teenager.

Jasvir Singh, 31, of Indianapolis, also failed to brake before slamming his semi into the back of a box truck near the eastbound Exit 23 off-ramp, which set off the deadly collision. That’s according to an arrest warrant charging Singh with first-degree manslaughter in connection with the crash that took the life of 19-year-old Casey Lynne Giannone.

Singh, who was brought back to Connecticut from Indiana over the weekend, was arraigned Tuesday in Waterbury Superior Court where a judge set his bond at $1 million.

An arrest warrant for Singh obtained Tuesday following his court appearance shows that he told police he had driven from Pennsylvania on his way to Massachusetts with a load of candy on Jan. 6, 2016. He was passing through the city on I-84 when the traffic slowed in front of him. He tried to brake, but the truck wouldn’t stop, he told police.

Up ahead of him on the highway sat Giannone in the passenger seat of a Subaru Legacy that was stopped in traffic. A talented and creative kid with a bright future, she and her boyfriend Alex Milosevic, then 18, were heading to a movie that night in Plainville.

As Singh’s truck careened forward, it crashed into the back of a box truck as a witness looked on. That truck then rear-ended a semi-truck, which crashed into the Subaru, pushing it into the rear of a Toyota Corolla, according to police.

The box truck driver thought he was going to die, as the impact of Singh’s truck pushed him forward toward the back end of a truck trailer full of logs. That driver escaped major injuries.

A fire then broke out between the tractor-trailer and the Subaru. Troopers said Giannone’s death was a result of the collision. She was pronounced dead at the scene, while Milosevic, covered in blood, was pulled from the burning car. He was seriously injured in the crash.

Singh told police he grabbed a fire extinguisher after spotting the flames and tried to help.

But a witness driving behind Singh told police that Singh’s truck never braked before the crash. Singh talked on his phone after the accident, but didn’t help the injured drivers, the witness, a fellow trucker, told police.

Singh was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time, police found. But an investigator secured Singh’s cellphone records, finding he had talked on the phone while driving on the highway before the crash.

A forensic examination of the tires on Singh’s truck also found he only braked after the collision, according to police.

In addition to manslaughter, police also charged Singh with making a false statement based on his version of events in which he told police he had braked. He was also charged with following too closely and using an electronic device while driving.

According to Singh’s attorney, Ioannis Kaloidis, Singh, a native of India, has lived in the country for five years and was working full time.

“His truck failed to slow down and a horrible accident occurred,” Kaloidis said. “There was no claim that he was actually holding the phone. He’s got blue tooth. That’s not a crime. If he could take back what happened he would, but there were no drugs, no alcohol. He was not driving beyond the time he was supposed to; he wasn’t texting.”

During the past 13 months, Singh became a U.S. citizen, relinquished his Indian citizenship and even traveled to his native country after asking permission from police, then returned, Kaloidis said. He was also prepared to surrender his U.S. passport on Tuesday.

Though Singh lacks a criminal record, he was held on a high bond by Judge Gerald Harmon, which was unnecessary, according to Kaloidis.

Giannone was a 2014 graduate of Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. After high school, she studied animation at Naugatuck Valley Community College and was scheduled to attend the Disney College program in the spring.

Singh is expected back in court next month.