ST. CHARLES COUNTY • A Marthasville trucker who failed to properly secure a 42,000-pound bulldozer he was hauling was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison for the deaths of two women who died when the equipment fell off his flatbed and smashed their car.
Adam L. Steinmann, 27, was found guilty by a jury in August of two counts of involuntary manslaughter and a misdemeanor count of driving with a suspended license.
Steinmann was eastbound on Highway D near Sneak Road on July 8, 2009, when he rounded a curve, and the bulldozer fell off his trailer. It bounced and landed on a westbound Mercury Grand Marquis driven by Judith Ulery, 63, of New Melle. Ulery died 44 days after the crash. Her mother, Elsie Sherman, 86, a passenger in the car, died about nine months after the crash.
Ulery and Sherman were cooks at Daniel Boone Elementary School.
During the sentencing hearing, Katherine Brakensiek talked about the effect her mother’s and grandmother’s death had on the family.
There will be no more five-generation photos, she said. Sunday dinners, prepared by her mother, who she called a great cook, don’t happen anymore. Her father, who is ill, had to be placed in an assisted living facility because her mother wasn’t there to take care of him.
“There’s someone who is responsible, and we ask that you hold him accountable,” she said.
Steinmann also spoke and apologized in a halting voice.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about these ladies,” he said. “It was never my intention to hurt anybody. I really didn’t think it was dangerous at the time. I was wrong.”
Circuit Judge Lucy Rauch sentenced Steinmann to four years on each of the involuntary manslaughter charges; they are to run consecutively. She also fined Steinmann $300 for the suspended license charge. The sentences were the maximum allowed.
“Claiming ignorance that the tie-downs were not adequate is not an excuse,” Rauch said.
Steinmann’s attorney, Joel Eisenstein, said he plans to appeal the conviction.
A civil suit filed by relatives of the women against Steinmann and his company and Lamke Trenching & Excavating was settled this month for $345,000, according to court records.
Steinmann also was sentenced Tuesday to an additional year in prison by Circuit Judge Nancy Schneider after the manslaughter hearing ended. Steinmann had been on probation before the crash for two counts of felony property damage from a 2005 incident in which he drove over the lawns of two homes in Wentzville, causing extensive damage.
Steinmann had been placed on probation, but that was revoked due to the crash charges. Steinmann got one year in prison for the property damage charges; it will be added to the eight years he got in the other case.