Crime & Courts

‘I never saw her.’ Garbage truck driver speaks out in death of Davidson pet sitter.

A truck driver who hit and killed pet sitter Janet McFadden and one of the dogs she was walking in downtown Davidson last year has been found not guilty of misdemeanor death by vehicle.
A truck driver who hit and killed pet sitter Janet McFadden and one of the dogs she was walking in downtown Davidson last year has been found not guilty of misdemeanor death by vehicle. Observer file photo

A garbage truck driver who hit and killed a pet sitter and one of the dogs she was walking in downtown Davidson was found not guilty by a Mecklenburg County Superior Court jury last week, the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.

Jeffrey Wilburn, 39, of Rock Hill was tried for misdemeanor death by vehicle in the death of 49-year-old Janet McFadden, who owned Davidson Pet Sitters.

McFadden was walking two dogs at about 12:15 p.m. on April 1, 2016, and was crossing South Main Street when a truck turned onto the street from South Street and hit her, police said. Paramedics said McFadden died at the scene.

Wilburn told the Observer on Wednesday that he never saw McFadden. He was traveling at 11 mph, his view of McFadden was blocked by a 15-passenger white Ford Econoline van, and McFadden was 10 feet outside a crosswalk, he said.

“She was not in an area where I could see her,” Wilburn said. “I never saw her.”

The company he worked for at the time, Republic Services of Charlotte, backed him throughout the case. Republic even called in a forensics engineer to take measurements at the scene – physical evidence that convinced the jury of his innocence, he said. “They were by my side the whole time,” Wilburn said of Republic.

“I feel sorry for her family,” Wilburn said. “It’s horrible.”

Wilburn, who was on workers’ comp after the collision, decided to never again drive a truck. The risks out on the road are too great, he said.

He now works for a company assembling 3D printers.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak

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