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Monday, October 5, 2009

Man back in court over fatal car crash

NASHUA – A former Nashua man will continue his fight to clear his name and get his driver’s license back at a Superior Court hearing this afternoon.

Michael Gorsuch, 31, now a Temple resident, is appealing the decision of a state Department of Motor Vehicles examiner who ruled he was driving during a 2007 accident that killed his friend, Daniel Rodriguez .

Gorsuch and Rodriguez left Sky Lounge on Oct. 29 after watching the Red Sox clinch the 2007 World Series. The 2007 Toyota Scion they were in crashed into a stand of trees off Thornton Road shortly after midnight, killing Rodriguez. Gorsuch has steadfastly denied he was the driver.

After police dropped negligent homicide and reckless driving while drunk charges, the state initiated hearings before the DMV to suspend Gorsuch’s license. After ruling that Gorsuch was driving, hearings examiner Mark Seymour suspended his license for the maximum of seven years.

Today’s Hillsborough County Superior Court hearing is an appeal of that decision.

State Department of Safety attorney Christopher Casko filed the state’s response to Gorsuch’s appeal Tuesday. In it, Casko restates the DMV’s case and also argues that state law precludes the court from hearing any further testimony or accepting new evidence.

“The administrative hearing in this matter took two days. Therefore, a full and complete record of testimony has been established, making any new evidence or witness testimony unnecessary,” Casko wrote in his motion.

Casko’s motion also defends Seymour’s decision as “reasonable and lawful” irregardless of expert testimony declaring that Gorsuch could not have been in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash. What weight to give testimony is entirely up to the examiner, Casko said.

Nashua police accident reconstruction experts determined that Gorsuch was driving. Several other reconstruction experts, including one that testified for Gorsuch and another hired by the state, have examined the reconstruction documents and said Rodriguez must have been driving. In his July ruling, Seymour said he was mostly swayed by the nature of Rodriguez’s injuries, including fractured ribs on his right side, bruises on his shoulder matching the pattern of the passenger side seat belt anchor and a patterned abrasion on his right shoulder matching the texture pattern of the passenger side air bag.

“The circumstances of this fatal crash were and remain heartrending for all concerned,” Seymour wrote in his final ruling. “Given the combination of alcohol and excessive speed, the tragic result was foreseeable and certainly avoidable.”

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or