By Lisa Redmond
AYER — A jury has cleared a 20-year-old Townsend man of motor-vehicle homicide after Trevor Thompson told police he fell asleep behind the wheel triggering the 2012 crash that killed a popular Concord-Carlisle school bus driver.
After a two-daytrial in Ayer District Court, a jury on Tuesday found Thompson not guilty of misdemeanor motor-vehicle homicide by negligent operation in the Sept. 22, 2012 death of 57-year-old Gary Garafola, of Townsend.
Known as "Mr. G" to students on his school bus, Garafola also taught to scores of teens how to drive as a driver’s education instructor.
Garafola, a married father of five, was an active member of St. John the Evangelist Church in Townsend. He taught CCD at the church and was a van driver for special-needs students in the North Middlesex Regional School District.
He volunteered his time with the Santa Claus Program sponsored by the Townsend VFW and with the Boy Scouts while two of his kids earned the rank of Eagle.
On the afternoon of Sept. 22, 2012, Garafola was walking his 10-year-old black Labrador retriever, Luke, just after 5 p.m. on Wallace Hill Road, when he was hit and killed by a 2004 Infiniti sedan being driven by Thompson.
There were no drugs, alcohol or texting involved in the crash Thompson, who was working full time, told police he fell asleep behind the wheel.
Thompson told police he was driving home from work at an area Apple Store when he fell asleep behind the wheel, veered off the road, hit and killed Garafola. He told police he didn’t remember anything until the explosion of his air bag woke him up.
Police determined the crash didn’t involve drugs or alcohol, and there was no speeding nor texting while driving.
In court documents, defense attorney Samuel Goldman described this as "horrific and tragic accident," but only an accident. Goldman said Thompson and his family are "devastated" by this incident.