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Driver in Dead Man's Curve Crash Facing Charges

Staff Reports
iBerkshires

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.

 

     

Tractor-Trailer Accident Closes Route 2; Driver Taken to BMC

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires

A tractor-trailer accident on Route 2 sent the driver to BMC and closed the road for several hours.

Update: The driver, Clement Leslie, 51, of Vineland, N.J., was in guarded condition at BMC.

Update: Route 2 was still closed as of 11:30 p.m. Traffic was being diverted down Whitcomb Hill Road to Zoar Road.

FLORIDA, Mass. — A tractor-trailer crash along the infamous Dead Man's Curve on Route 2 left the driver trapped for more than an hour and dumped hundreds of pounds of lime across the steep incline above the Cold River.

The state highway was closed shortly before 5 p.m. from South County Road to Charlemont and was expected to be shut down until later Wednesday night.

The driver of the truck, who has not been identified, was taken by North Adams Ambulance to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield.

"He lost control coming down the hill," said Florida Fire Chief Michael Bedini. "He's lucky to be alive.

"We used the Jaws of Life and the wreckers to get where we had to go."

The truck was eastbound on the steep curving section of the highway went the driver apparently lost control coming around the curves and flipped the truck onto the guardrails. The cab of the truck was situated on its side in a way that the driver's head was just past the guardrail and his body still seat-belted in the cab.

Joseph Dean of Dean's Towing positioned two of his large wreckers with cables attached to the truck's underside while emergency responders jacked up the cab an inch or two at a time until they could cut away the driver's seat and pull him out. The driver was reportedly alert and speaking to rescuers during; state police reported that he did not have life-threatening injuries.

State police investigators were at the scene and pointed to the cab's destroyed dashboard and broken off brake controls. The truck apparently sliced through a section of the guardrails before coming to rest on top them.

Clarksburg Fire Department also responded to the scene.

The semi is owned by Paladino Farms of Rosenhayn, N.J., which transports agricultural, fuel and building supplies, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The trailer was carrying pallets of lime, bagged as ViCALity Albaglos, a product of Specialty Minerals in Adams. Dean said the trailer was destroyed and would have to be removed in pieces.

While the dangerous curve has seen plenty of crashes in the past, firefighters at the scene couldn't think of one this significant in the last few years. "It's been a long time since we had an accident up here," said Bedini. 

This is the second significant accident in three weeks on the steep state highway. On March 25, two tractor-trailers collided head-on in North Adams when one lost its brakes coming down the west side of the Mohawk Trail. Both drivers survived the crash.

 

 

 

 

 

     

Florida Crash Turns Fatal

Staff Reports

Updated May 31, 2010, at 9:50 p.m.; edited and rewritten throughout.

FLORIDA, Mass. —  An accident early Saturday evening has resulted in the death of a Connecticut woman.

A state police spokesman said Hazel Lavallee, 71, of Enfield, Conn., died Monday morning of injuries sustained in the single-car crash.

Lavallee was a passenger in the 2004 Hyundai Sonata driven by her husband, Richard Lavallee, also 71. Both Lavallees were airlifted to Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center on Saturday night with severe injuries.

The single-car crash occurred around 6 p.m. across the from the Whitcomb Summit on the Mohawk Trail.

The Lavallees were eastbound on Route 2 when the he apparently lost control of car and veered off the road, shearing off a utility pole and flipping the car onto the driver's side. The vehicle came to rest in the grassy glade across the highway from the Whitcomb Summit Motel.

The couple were the only occupants and were taken to North Adams Regional Hospital; from there they were airlifted to Albany.

A state police spokesman said he was not aware if Lavallee had been moved from Albany since Saturday.  He confirmed that there had been a report of an erratic driver just four minutes before the crash.

The accident is under investigation by state police.

What is left of the utility is above. Right, emergency responders try to push over the car after the passengers were transported to the hospital.

 

 

Tags: accident, motor vehicle, injuries, fatal      
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