$1 billion verdict reached in crash that killed UNF student

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A billion-dollar verdict has been reached in a crash involving two trucking companies that killed a UNF student back in 2017.

A jury in Nassau County found the companies at fault in the death of 18-year-old Connor Dzion.

The family’s attorney, Curry Pajcic, blames the companies for distracted drivers and improper hiring practices.

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Melissa and Dave Dzion say their son did everything right. A straight-A student, Connor Dzion had just started his freshman year at UNF.

That all came to an end on Sept. 4, 2017.

Connor was driving home from his girlfriend’s on Interstate 95 when he stopped for a crash involving a semi truck. Pajcic says the driver, Russel Rogatenko, who worked for AJD Business Services, admitted to first responders he’d been distracted by his phone before the crash.

While Connor was stopped for that crash, among dozens of other vehicles, Pajcic says a second truck driver, Yadwinder Sangha, who worked for Canada-based company Kahkashan Carrier, slammed into the sea of cars, killing Connor.

Pajcic says a data recorder on the truck showed Sangha was traveling in cruise control at 70 miles per hour and didn’t hit the brakes until one second before impact.

“This was Connor Dzion’s car,” Pajcic said, showing a photo of the car. “Crushed beyond recognition.”

Pajcic says Rogatenko was hired by AJD with no background check and no license to drive a truck. Pajcic also pointed to Rogatenko’s record, which showed multiple prior crashes and speeding.

Pajcic says the second driver, Sangha, was also distracted.

“He was driving distracted by cellphone use,” Pajcic explained, adding, “What Yadwinder Sangha was looking at, we will never know because he went back to Canada.”

The jury handed down a verdict of over $100 million awarded to Connor’s parents, and $900 million in punitive damages against AJD.

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“Connor was determined to leave his mark on this world: now Dave and I will do it for him, with him. This has to stop,” Melissa Dzion said.

Pajcic says there are good trucking companies out there: he wants the bad ones to hear the Dzions’ message.

Action News Jax is working to get in touch with the companies. We will update this story when we hear back.