No Prison Time for Man Whose Loose Bull Caused Fatal Wreck | Off Message

No Prison Time for Man Whose Loose Bull Caused Fatal Wreck


A surviving bull, Big, behind a fence at Craig Mosher's Killington property in June 2016 - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • A surviving bull, Big, behind a fence at Craig Mosher's Killington property in June 2016
The owner of an escaped bull that caused a fatal car crash pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge of reckless endangerment and got a suspended sentence.

Craig Mosher's 1,800-pound Scottish Highland bull was loose on Route 4 in Killington in July 2015 when it was struck by a car with two people inside.

Jon Bellis, 62, of Connecticut, was behind the wheel and died at the scene. His wife, Kathryn Bellis, was injured.

In the weeks before the fatal collision, police twice responded to reports that Mosher's bull had gotten loose on Route 4. Minutes before the fatal accident, another motorist called police and said he had narrowly avoided the bull while driving on the road. (That person also notified Mosher that the bull was loose.) A Vermont State Police trooper was en route when the fatal collision occurred.

Mosher will not serve any prison time under a plea agreement finalized in Rutland Superior Court. He received a suspended sentence of six months to one year, with two years of probation.

"The state feels very strongly that [Mosher] should have a criminal conviction for his many opportunities where he knew his 1,800-pound bull got out and walked Route 4," Rutland County State's Attorney Rose Kennedy said in a prepared statement. "A guilty plea to reckless endangerment satisfies the state's needs. [Mosher], like any other animal owner, is responsible for his animals."

In prepared remarks, Kathryn Bellis said prosecutors should have been more aggressive and pursued a manslaughter charge against Mosher.

"We have been handed a life sentence of loss," Bellis wrote. "A palpable sadness consumes everyone who has lost Jon. For his children and me, this has been an obliterating loss. We have needed the continuous help of psychiatrists, hospitalizations, outpatient counseling and medications."

Kennedy's decision to pursue a criminal charge in the case was criticized by local farmers, who feared that they could face charges whenever their animals escaped, a relatively common occurrence in rural Vermont. Around 50 farmers packed the courtroom for Mosher's arraignment and clapped in support of him as he left afterward.

In her statement Wednesday, Kennedy said only one other animal owner in Rutland County had been the subject of repeated complaints about escaped animals. After learning of the Mosher case, she said, that owner took steps to better secure the animals.

"This case is not about destroying a way of life, or making a tough life harder, but it is about doing what is necessary to protect human life," Kennedy said. "If charging the defendant saves one life, it's worth it."

Mosher's lawyer, Paul Volk, could not immediately be reached for comment.