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Trucker Found Not Guilty in Crash

The truck driver involved in a crash that killed five and injured several more from Chippewa Falls High School was acquitted on all counts Monday.

The story that ran in the Star Tribune was written by Kevin Giles. This story reported much of the information regarding the crash that killed five people in 2005.

Kozlowski, 24, was driving to the Twin Cities when his semitrailer truck overturned on Interstate Hwy. 94 early on Oct. 16, 2005. Moments later, a bus carrying Chippewa Falls marching band students and chaperones crashed into the trailer, which was blocking both westbound lanes 3 miles west of Osseo, Wis.

The story reported the names and ages of all five people killed in the crash. It also listed their relationships as many of them were related and all of them were some way associated with the Chippewa Falls School District. The story reported the reactions and emotions that came from friends and family of the victims when the verdict was read.

As nearly two dozen friends and relatives of the crash victims watched in silence, Kozlowski hugged his attorneys after Judge William Gabler read not guilty verdicts on all 33 felony and misdemeanor counts against him.

In a rather long winded way the story reported the fight that took place between the prosecution and the defense. Essentially, the prosecution tried to prove that Kozlowski was too tired to be driving and was a danger to other drivers while the defense put the dead bus driver on trial because he was tired and was not wearing the glasses the he should have been wearing according to his drivers’ license.

The story reported that while the criminal charges were unsuccessful the legal fight is by no means over.

Monday's verdict ends criminal action in the case, but 10 civil suits are pending against Kozlowski, Whole Foods and the charter bus company, Chippewa Trails.

I think that the biggest issue in this story is relating the details of the case to both the criminal and civil cases that were brought. Obviously, the writer should not want to slander either side of the story but I felt like I could see the Kozlowski side of the story looking rather, slimy. I felt like Kozlowski and his lawyers came off looking like really inconsiderate and evil people and I’m not sure this should have been the intent.

A second story ran in the Pioneer Press and was written by Kevin Harter and David Hanners. I felt like the lead for this story was a bit more traditional and was a bit more helpful by providing just enough information without overloading the reader with information.

A jury in Hudson, Wis., deliberated less than four hours Monday before acquitting an Indiana truck driver on charges that he was criminally negligent in a 2005 bus crash that killed five people.

This version of the story reported much of the same information in a very similar manner. I did feel like in this version as well the details and quotes about Kozlowski were a little bit editorialized.

Kozlowski, a short growth of hair just barely concealing the tattoos that cover his scalp and neck, did not testify in his defense. His defense rested largely on expert testimony showing that the driver of the bus did more to cause the fatal accident than Kozlowski.

Once again as with the first version of the story this version also commented on the defense’s attempt to place blame for the accident on the bus driver who died in the crash.

The defense said Kozlowski had gotten enough sleep. But they also attempted to focus blame on Rasmus, the driver of the chartered bus. They introduced evidence that he had bad eyesight and wasn't wearing his glasses, as was required by his driver's license. And they said he was driving without getting enough sleep and that the bus had defective brakes.

I felt like both of these stories had good points and poorer points. I felt that the Pioneer Press version was a little bit easier to read. I thought that this version was a little bit easier to decipher. The information presented in this piece was a bit more concise and broken down which made it easier for the reader to read. While I thought that the Pioneer Press version was better to read, I recognize that the Star Tribune version was right on the mark as well and had many good points of its own. I felt like both stories served their purpose but that the Pioneer Press version did so in a way that was more conducive to my personal reading style.