Springfield man pleads not guilty in fatal Northampton crash
NORTHAMPTON — Appearing in court in a wheelchair and neck brace, the man accused in the motor vehicle crash deaths of his 3-year-old daughter and a 71-year-old Easthampton man denied multiple charges this week.
Mauricio Velasquez, 32, of Springfield, pleaded not guilty to two counts of motor vehicle homicide while operating under the influence of alcohol, two counts of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence resulting in serous bodily injury, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, child endangerment while operating under the influence, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and transporting a child under the age of 8 and under 58 inches without a car seat.
Judge W. Michael Goggins ordered Velasquez held on $100,000 cash bail or $1 million surety during the brief arraignment in Northampton District Court Monday.
According to investigators, Velasquez was speeding in a white van headed south on Hendrick Street in Easthampton about 3:30 p.m. Saturday when he lost control and hit a guardrail before crossing back into the northbound lane and slamming into a blue pickup driven by Charles Hoffman, 71, who was killed.
Firefighters had to extricate Velasquez and his passenger, Milder Velasquez, 25, according to police.
According to police, when officers arrived, they found the girl, who was not breathing, on the floor of the vehicle.
Police said they found a child safety seat in the car, but it was improperly installed and the buckles apparently were not latched.
“This seat was either improperly used or not used at all,” according to a police report included in court files.
Hoffman was not breathing and had no pulse when police arrived.
According to court records, Velasquez told police he was returning to Springfield from Northampton after visiting family in the area and drank “six or seven” beers between 1 and 2:30 p.m. Police said he told investigators he lost control of the van and pressed the gas pedal instead of the brake.