AUGUSTA — A truck driver from Dexter has lost his challenge of a three-year license suspension he was given after a crash last year that killed a 12-year-old girl from Connecticut.

A hearing examiner for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has denied the appeal of Charles Willey, 54.

The state suspended Willey’s driver’s license because of the crash Aug. 17, in which a tractor-trailer loaded with sawdust tipped over and crushed the rear of a minivan. Tess Meisel of Westport, Conn., was killed.

Investigators concluded that excessive speed caused the trailer to tip.

The YMCA minivan, which was stopped in traffic at the intersection of routes 2, 27 and 4 in Farmington, was carrying campers and two counselors from Camp Jewell in Colebrook, Conn.

On May 31, Willey and his attorney, Thomas Marjerison, argued that the suspension should be lifted.

Hearing examiner Frank Naiman disagreed, concluding in a written decision that Willey “negligently operated a motor vehicle in a manner so as to cause the death of another person.”

Naiman said Willey drove “at an unreasonable rate of speed under the circumstances … that caused him to lose control of the vehicle, which unreasonable conduct directly resulted in the death of Tess Meisel.”

Meisel’s mother, Suzanne Tanner, who attended the appeal hearing but was not allowed to participate, welcomed the ruling.

“I’m relieved at the news,” she said Monday. “Part of the system worked.”

Tanner said she remains upset that Willey even appealed his license suspension.

“The truck driver needs to own up to the responsibility of what he did,” she said. “There is no responsibility, no accountability, which is a big part of how anybody heals.”

Tanner said she has been in contact with a lawyer about filing a wrongful-death lawsuit against Willey.

Tanner also said she is trying to find an appropriate way to commemorate her daughter, whom she described as an extraordinary person. Both counselors and two girls who were injured in the crash, as well as one of the girls’ mother, attended the appeal hearing along with Tanner.

At that hearing, Willey testified that it was his second trip of the day hauling sawdust from Dixfield to Athens. He had been delivering three loads a day along the same route for eight months for Linkletter Trucking of Athens.

Willey has 30 days to appeal the hearing examiner’s finding to a judge in Superior Court. The finding was issued Thursday.

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at: [email protected]