A man once charged with vehicular manslaughter after crashing his Infiniti into a minivan carrying a mother and her two young children has been exonerated after it was revealed that his car’s brakes were defective.
“The nightmare is over,” Solomon Methenge said.
Two families’ lives were changed forever Aug. 29, 2012, in the horrible crash that left a mother and her 4-year-old and 6-year-old children dead.
Methenge said he had been living his nightmare since.
He rammed his Infiniti SUV into a minivan carrying the family. They died that morning, and Methenge says a part of him died too.
“I feel very bad about the family who lost their family in that accident,” Methenge said. “There’s nothing I can take back.”
His nightmare grew when – after a month in the hospital – Methenge was then charged with vehicular manslaughter.
The deceased family’s relatives also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him. But Methenge had always maintained it wasn’t his fault. He put the blame on his car’s brakes.
“I tried to avoid not hitting them because the brakes weren’t working,” Methenge said. “They went all the way to the floor.”
For four years, he fought to clear his name and on Monday morning, the charges were finally dropped.
“We simply cannot prove that Mr. Methenge committed a criminal act beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Deputy District Attorney George Castello in court.
The judge announced Methenge was exonerated, his charges cleared, and he was free to go.
Castello took over the case a year ago and said he saw that Methenge’s Infiniti was part of a known defect that caused intermittent brake failure, and it was even part of a class-action lawsuit Infiniti’s parent company, Nissan, settled out of court.
“And that played a substantial role in this case because we were able to contact members of that class an interview them and they experienced the identical problem,” Castello said.
The SUV, though, was never part of a nationwide recall. Infiniti chose not respond to NBC4’s inquiries because of the pending litigation.
“We’re just pleased that enough people now believe Mr. Methenge. That those who we believe are responsible will be able to be brought to justice for this tragedy,” said Kirk Wolden, attorney for Methenge in the case against Nissan and Infiniti.
In a unique twist, the family that once wanted to see the driver jailed for life has dropped their civil case against him and the two have joined together for a case against Nissan-Infiniti.
“Together we’ll find out what the truth is,” Methenge said.