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Driver in Dead Man's Curve Crash Facing Charges

Staff Reports

The driver of the tractor-trailer that crashed last week is facing multiple charges.

FLORIDA, Mass. — The driver of a tractor-trailer that flipped over on Dead Man's Curve last Wednesday is facing multiple charges and the loss of his commercial driver's license.

Clement Leslie, 51, of Vineland, N.J., is still at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, where he is expected to undergo another surgery on Thursday.

State Trooper David McKearney of the Cheshire Barracks said Wednesday that he had served Leslie at the hospital with charges of operating to endanger, failure to stay within marked lanes and speeding.

"We believe he was reading a magazine while he was driving," he said. McKearney said Leslie told him that he took the turn too fast.

The accident is still under investigation.

The accident occurred at about 4:40 p.m. on April 11 and closed the state highway between Whitcomb Hill Road and Charlement until 2 the following morning. The load of lime Leslie was hauling was dumped across the steep incline above the Cold River when the truck crashed onto the guardrails. It took more than an hour to extricate Leslie from his crushed cab.  

McKearney, who has a background in federal and state trucking regulations, said Leslie was also in violation of the commercial vehicle enforcement section of federal truck laws. Some were mechanical issues with the truck that "were not contributory to the accident," said McKearney.

"The most important violation is the 14-hour rule," he said. Drivers by law are not allowed to drive beyond the 14th-hour of coming on duty, which for Clement was 2:30 p.m. "He should not have been on the road."

Leslie also failed to take a Breathalyzer within eight hours or a drug test within 32 hours of the accident, as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Leslie was driving for Paladino Farms of Rosenhayn, N.J. McKearney said they would move to immediately suspend his CDL license out of New Jersey.  

"We're going to do every thing we can to keep him from driving again," said the trooper.


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