Driver pleads guilty to reduced charge in Vermont crash that killed actor Treat Williams

BENNINGTON, Vt. – A Vermont man on Friday pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of negligent driving with death resulting in the June crash that killed actor Treat Williams.

Ryan Koss, 35, who knew Williams, was given a one-year deferred sentence and as part of his probation will have his driving license revoked for a year and must complete a community restorative justice program on the misdemeanor charge.

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Koss was turning left into a parking lot in a Honda SUV on June 12 when he collided with Williams’ oncoming motorcycle in Dorset, police said. Williams, 71, of Manchester Center, who was wearing a helmet, suffered critical injuries and was airlifted to Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

After the crash, Koss called Williams’ wife to tell her what happened, said Bennington County State’s Attorney Erica Marthage, who said Koss from the beginning has taken responsibility for the accident.

In the emotional hearing on Friday, Koss apologized and offered condolences to Williams’ family and fans. The managing creative director of the Dorset Theatre Festival in Vermont knew Williams for years as a member of the tight-knit community, as well as a fellow theater member, and considered him a friend.

“I’m here to apologize and take responsibility for this tragic accident,” he told the court.

Williams’ son Gill, 32, wore his father’s jacket and spoke directly to Koss, who he had met before the crash. The family did not want to press charges or have Koss go to prison, he said.

“I do forgive you, and I hope that you forgive yourself,” he said. But he also added that “I really wish you hadn’t killed my father. I really had to say that.”

Gill Williams said his father was “everything” to their family and an extraordinary person who lived life to the fullest, and it’s now hard to figure out how to go forward.

His father had given him the motorcycle the day before the crash, and he was “the safest person in the world,” Gill Williams said.

“It’s very difficult to have this happen based on someone’s negligence,” he said, urging people to take driving a lot more seriously and to look out for motorcycles. Statements from Williams’ wife, Pam, and his daughter, who both did not attend the court hearing, were read aloud.

Pam Williams said in her statement that it was a tragic accident and that she hopes Koss can forgive himself.

“Our lives will never be the same, our family has been torn apart and there is a huge hole that can’t possibly be filled,” Pam Williams wrote in her statement.

Daughter Ellie Williams wrote in her statement that she was too angry and hurt at this time to forgive Koss but hopes she will in the future.

“I will never get to feel my father’s hug again; be able to get his advice again, introduce him to my future husband, have him walk me down the aisle, introduce him to my babies, and have him cry when I name my first son after him,” a victim’s advocate said in reading her statement.

Koss originally pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of gross negligent operation with death resulting. If he had been convicted of that charge, he could have been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

Richard Treat Williams’ nearly 50-year career included starring roles in the TV series “Everwood” and the movie “Hair.” He appeared in more than 120 TV and film roles, including the movies “The Eagle Has Landed,” “Prince of the City” and “Once Upon a Time in America.”

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