Ralph Northam

Food Truck Driver Charged With Involuntary Manslaughter in Deadly Crash

The food truck crashed into a car carrying a family of five, killing a 39-year-old mother

A food truck driver accused of causing a crash that killed a mother of three has been indicted on an involuntary manslaughter charge.

Tony Steven Dane was indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving, failing to have insurance, failing to have an operator's license and failure to have the vehicle inspected. Dane was taken into custody Tuesday morning, and a bond hearing was scheduled for Wednesday.

Driving a converted school bus for his company Dane's Great American Hamburger, Dane ran a stop sign in Leesburg, Virginia, about 4:50 p.m. Sept. 8, police said. 

The food truck slammed into a Audi station wagon carrying a family of five. The crash on Evergreen Mills Road killed 39-year-old Erin Kaplan and injured her teenage son, Ben, her two daughters and her mother.

Ben Kaplan spent 54 days in a hospital before being moved to a rehabilitation facility. His sisters and grandmother had brief hospital stays.

"It's been tough,” Ben Kaplan previously told News4. "I have a broken heart over the loss of my mother, but every day gets a little better, and I couldn’t do it without my grandma."

Dane, his 16-year-old son and his son's friend received serious but not life-threatening injuries, an affidavit said. Dane told investigators the food truck's brakes failed.

Michael Shelvin, an attorney for the Kaplan family, previously said the children and Erin Kaplan's husband are healing and are overwhelmed by the support they've received from the community.

"The healing from the physical injuries continues to happen," Shelvin said. "I think that the healing from the emotional injuries are going to take a while."

The community raised tens of thousands of dollars to help with the family's medical costs, including through a volleyball game fundraiser.

Ben Kaplan said he was grateful for that support. 

"It's meant the world to me," he said. "The man who hit our car, he taught me about the evil in the world, but seeing all these kind actions has really taught me that the world can be very nice, too.”

Dane's Great American Hamburger is based in Winchester, Virginia, and was founded by Dane. He is a father who initially bought the school bus he later converted into a food truck so he could travel with his family, the business' website says.

Dane also is a conservative activist who was charged last year in Nevada with trying to extort a state lawmaker into changing his vote for Assembly speaker, The Associated Press reported.

After the deadly crash, the Virginia Department of Transportation made safety improvements at the intersection of Watson and Evergreen Mills roads, and the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office is hitting the area with a special enforcement campaign.

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