Man Pleads Not Guilty In Death at Truck Stop

By Jordan Cuddemi

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 09-20-2018 11:46 PM

Wells River — A 34-year-old Vermont man pleaded not guilty on Thursday to gross negligent motor vehicle operation in connection with the death of a truck stop worker in Wells River last year.

David Gilbo, who was living in Newbury at the time, pulled away from the gas pumps at P&H Truck Stop on Sept. 10, 2017, and ran over P&H worker David Elder, who had been performing maintenance near an underground storage tank cover, according to a newly filed affidavit in a Washington County courthouse.

Police and prosecutors say a “reasonable and prudent person” would have seen the 55-year-old Elder, who was kneeling at the time, and avoided hitting him, according to the affidavit written by Vermont State Police Cpl. Charles Schulze.

“There were buckets and cones set up to mark the work area,” the affidavit said.

In addition, on more than one occasion while Gilbo was near the gas pumps that morning, he should have had an “unobstructed view” of where Elder was, according to the affidavit.

Gilbo appeared in Washington Superior Court in Barre, Vt., on Thursday and entered his not guilty plea to a single felony count of grossly negligent operation with death resulting. He was released on conditions.

The situation began to unfold around 10:35 a.m. last September when Gilbo arrived at the truck stop off Route 302 in his Toyota Tacoma pickup truck to get gas.

There were several other people at the pumps that morning, so Gilbo had to wait his turn to pull into a pump area. According to footage from a surveillance camera, after he pumped gasoline into his truck, Gilbo turned sharply left and accelerated out of the pump area, striking Elder, who had five white buckets and two orange cones stationed around him, the affidavit said.

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Elder had been cleaning traps for the underground fuel tanks on a concrete pad near the fuel pumps.

Gilbo continued to drive for approximately 10 seconds before he stopped, and one of the white buckets was lodged under his truck, the affidavit said.

Police spoke to several witnesses and at least one said that Gilbo was distraught and emotional after the incident.

Gilbo told police he didn’t see Elder and that 20 to 30 feet after he pulled out of the pump area, he could hear something dragging under his truck, so he stopped. It was then that he looked back and saw Elder lying on the ground, Gilbo told police, according to the affidavit.

Attempts to reach Gilbo for comment on Thursday were unsuccessful.

The case is being handled in Washington County and prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office because Orange County officials have recused themselves from the case.

Elder’s sister, Susan, works in the Orange County court system.

“David was a ninth-generation Vermonter, a very hard worker, an artist, an athlete and had a constant happy demeanor,” Susan Elder said in a statement on Thursday. “He was killed while performing his job that he has held for (17½ years). He has a grandchild on the way that he will never meet. He is missed by his family, friends and colleagues every day.”

Elder had been married for 12 years and had four children, according to his obituary.

He had painted the murals at the truck stop and designed the menu covers.

If convicted of the charge, Gilbo faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000, or both, according to the charging documents.

The date of Gilbo’s next court hearing wasn’t immediately available.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.

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