A tractor-trailer driver who killed an Amherst couple last year when he fell asleep at the wheel on Transit Road in Clarence was sentenced Tuesday to one year in jail.
The truck driven by Steven Reitz, 59, of Cato, near Syracuse, crossed into oncoming traffic and collided with the couple’s minivan.
Reitz pleaded guilty in August to reckless driving, driving while fatigued, failure to keep right and falsifying business records. Reitz was sentenced by Clarence Town Justice Michael B. Powers.
Reitz had gone without sleep for at least 24 hours before driving the tractor-trailer, according to Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III.
Authorities found no evidence Reitz drove drunk or under the influence of drugs.
“Normally, falling asleep at the wheel is not a crime,” Sedita said. “But given the facts and circumstances of this case, we felt it was.”
Reitz was driving south on Transit, between Casey and Muegel roads, about 12:30 p.m. Oct. 13, 2012, when he crashed head-on into the northbound minivan driven by Howard Vahue, killing both Vahue, 75, and his wife, Barbara Vahue, 68, State Police said. The truck then crashed into a couple cars and into Spring Grove Animal Hospital at 6241 Transit, causing more than $100,000 damage.
Reitz and his passenger were not injured.