BOSTON, Feb. 3, 2015—A West Roxbury man was sentenced today for causing a collision that left one of his passengers in a wheelchair and the driver of a second vehicle with catastrophic injuries that left him unable to walk, talk, or even feed himself, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.
A Brighton Municipal Court jury last month convicted NIKOLAS PAPADOPOULOS (D.O.B. 4/8/95) of negligent operation of a motor vehicle for the crash that he caused by driving at almost twice the speed limit along the Arborway on Sept. 6, 2013. The Jan. 19 verdict came after about three days of trial and less than a day of deliberations. The proceedings were held in Brighton because of ongoing construction near the West Roxbury courthouse that normally has jurisdiction over the location of the crash.
Assistant District Attorney Montez Haywood recommended two years in a house of correction – the maximum for negligent operation – with 18 months of that sentence to be served behind bars and the balance suspended for five years. Haywood further recommended that Papadopoulos perform 150 hours of community service per year during that five-year period, specifically requesting that they be served at a facility for traumatic brain injury patients; that Papadopoulos be ordered to enter and complete an advanced driver safety course within his first year of being released from custody; and that he not seek reinstatement of his driver’s license during the suspended portion of his sentence.
Judge Debra Shopteese imposed two years in a house of correction with one year to serve and the balance suspended for five years, ordering that he perform 2000 hours of community service during that time and not use any social media until the service is completed.
“This case makes tragically clear that choices have consequences,” Conley said. “The defendant made a choice to speed at almost 60 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone, but it will be others who live with the consequences. One young man will likely never walk again. Another man, a father and a husband, can no longer hug and kiss his children, or even speak the words of love that are trapped within his heart. And the terrible tragedy is that the crash and all the pain it’s caused were one hundred percent preventable. I want to thank ADA Haywood for his professionalism throughout this prosecution, Kara Hayes for her constant support and advocacy for the victims and their families, and the State Police investigators whose diligent efforts gathered all the facts that led to this result.”
Haywood, a prosecutor assigned to Conley’s Senior Trial Unit, proved that Papadopoulos was behind the wheel of a 2003 Mazda Tribute and travelling westbound on the Arborway at about 2:00 that afternoon. The evidence showed that he was driving well over the 30 mph speed limit when his vehicle crossed the center line in the area of Saint Joseph Street, struck a concrete barrier, and rolled over, crashing into a 2004 Ford F-150 pickup truck. The truck’s driver, then 33 and a father of three young children, suffered catastrophic injuries and now relies upon others for even the most basic tasks. His passenger, then 34, suffered less serious injuries.
Papadopoulos had three passengers. One of them, then 14, suffered a traumatic brain injury after being ejected from the vehicle and now uses a wheelchair for mobility. Another 14-year-old passenger was seriously injured. Neither was wearing his seatbelt. The 15-year-old passenger suffered less serious injuries.
At the defendant’s request and over prosecutors’ objections, jurors did not hear testimony regarding the nature or extent of any of the victims’ injuries, nor did jurors see the massive damage to the two vehicles.
Prior to sentencing, the families of the two most badly-injured victims submitted an impact statement to the court.
“The sentencing of Nikolas Papadopoulos to jail closes this chapter of the accident, but the consequences of his actions on September 6, 103, will never end for our families,” they wrote. “His life will only be briefly interrupted. The interruption in our families’ lives will not end. Our families want to thank all the first responders, the State Police, and the firefighters who helped save the lives of [the victims], and the District Attorney’s office for their tireless effort to see that justice was done.”
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.