Five New York teens die in collision with semi

| 6/28/2007

The families and friends of five cheerleaders – and a 50-year-old trucker – are trying to find ways to cope after the teens died in a fiery collision with the trucker’s rig around 10 p.m. Tuesday night in western New York state.

Ontario County Sheriff Phil Povero told “Land Line Now” on XM Satellite Radio that the wreck on June 26 was definitely not the fault of trucker Dave Laverty.

Laverty was westbound on Routes 5 and 20 near the town of East Bloomfield in the Finger Lakes region of the state when an eastbound Chevy Trailblazer carrying the teens passed another car – then over-corrected and swerved directly into his path.

The collision set both vehicles on fire. Povero said Laverty, who was uninjured, tried to help the young women, who were ages 17 and 18.

“His first instinct … following the near-destruction of the cab and the Trailblazer, was to try to give aid and rescue persons in the Trailblazer,” he said. “Unfortunately, the vehicle was totally engulfed in flames. He was not able to even get near the vehicle.”

Povero said that although Laverty was not physically injured, he was taking the gravity of the wreck very hard.

“Mentally, he is very distraught. He has expressed his sincere condolences to the families of the deceased, and he truly feels extremely bad that the entire situation happened,” Povero said. “However, there is absolutely no evidence or reason to believe that his actions contributed to this terrible tragedy.”

Land Line Magazine Managing Editor Sandi Soendker has talked to a number of drivers over the years who’ve been involved in fatality accidents. She said even when they’re not at fault, the accident can result in emotional problems, lengthy court proceedings and even the loss of jobs for the truckers.

“I think if you drive for a living, it’s your worst nightmare,” said Soendker. “I don’t personally know this driver from New York, but I do know that every truck driver who hears the facts of this crash is going to be thinking about that guy today.”

Povero says that while test results are not in yet, there’s no indication that drugs or alcohol were a factor in the wreck.

– By Reed Black, staff writer