Two Men Sentenced in Crash That Killed Students

Drivers Face Maximum Sentence for Crash That Claimed Lives of 3 UC Berkeley Grad Students

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More than four years after three UC Berkeley graduate students were killed in a high-speed crash, the two Oakland men responsible were sentenced Friday.

Eric Barnes, 28, and Stanley Jacks Jr., 25, were convicted last month for three counts of vehicular manslaughter. The July 16, 2005 crash killed Giulia Adesso, 26, Benjamin Boussert, 27, and Jason Choy, 29, all graduate students in the College of Chemistry. Barnes and Jacks were sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison, the maximum sentence.

Emory Chan, who graduated from Berkeley in 2006 with a Ph.D. in Chemistry and knew all three victims, said that though the sentence is harsh, the two men responsible need to face the consequences of their actions.

"We're obviously grateful that justice has been served," Chan said. "(But) it's bittersweet because no sentence can bring them back."

According to Chan, the delay in sentencing occurred because the California Highway Patrol was unsure of how the accident happened.

Sam Morgan, a California Highway Patrol spokesperson, said researchers at UC Berkeley's Safe Transportation Research and Education Center played a "crucial part of the investigation."

Using sensors embedded in Interstate 80, where the crash occurred, the researchers established that Jacks and Barnes were racing and that both cars were traveling at more than 100 miles per hour.

Barnes's and Jacks's reckless driving caused a nearby big rig to lose control, collide into the center divider and then catch on fire, Morgan said. From there, the truck traveled into the opposite lanes of traffic and collided with the car carrying the trio of students.

According to Chan, Judge Jeffrey Horner of Alameda County Superior Court was "moved" by the severity of the accident and the manner of the victims' deaths.

Paul Alivisatos, director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who worked closely with Boussert and Adessor as an adviser in the College of Chemistry, said the students' deaths were a loss because no one would know the contributions the two students could have made.

"These were two really capable young scientists," Alivisatos said. "They were doing great Ph.D. work. Nobody really knows what they would have done for the world."


Contact Denise Poon at [email protected]

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