— MOIRA — A tractor-trailer driver faces misdemeanor charges in the fatal crash that killed six North Country people a year ago.
James A. Mills, 46, of Myerstown, Pa., appeared in Antwerp Town Court in Jefferson County Tuesday night, where he was charged with reckless driving, following too closely, failure to reduce speed for a hazard and failure to obey a flag person, according to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office.
He pleaded not guilty and is due back in court on Sept. 26, the D.A.’s Office said.
Mills was driving a tractor trailer loaded with yogurt on Route 11 near Dickson Road about 9 a.m. on July 19, 2012, when he came upon a line of vehicles slowing down or stopped for a flag person at a construction site and, unable to stop, crashed into the vehicle in back of the line, police said.
His rig hit a vehicle driven by Maryann Gregory, 59, of Dickinson Center and forced it into the rear of a State Department of Transportation pickup truck, which, in turn, slammed into a vehicle driven by Laurie Dana, 42, of Lawrence before it burst into flames.
Killed instantly were Dana and her four passengers: her daughters, Caitlyn, 14, and Lauren, 11; her mother-in-law, Janet Dana, 69, of Brushton; and Caitlyn’s best friend, Shannon Planty, 14, of Brasher.
Gregory was taken to E.J. Noble Hospital in Gouverneur but died of her injuries.
The DOT driver, Lewis L. Lottie Jr. of Nicholville, suffered massive chest and head injuries.
Mills was treated for minor injuries and released from Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown.
The case was presented to a Jefferson County grand jury, which did not return an indictment against Mills, the D.A.’s Office said.
He was instead charged through a Prosecutor’s Information document.
— Staff Writer Felicia Krieg added to this report.