Driver charged in deadly I-81 pileup

BY STACI WILSON

Witnesses told police they never saw brake lights on a tractor trailer that careened through traffic, struck multiple vehicles and left one man dead in a July crash on Interstate 81.

Charges have now been filed against the tractor trailer driver that police say caused the July 18 seven care pile-up in Lenox Twp. that killed Brian Wilcox, 56, of Lutherville, Md.

Samba Doucoure, 42, of Greensboro, N.C., was charged by Tpr. Michael Joyce with homicide by motor vehicle; involuntary manslaughter; aggravated assault by motor vehicle; and numerous other trafic violations stemming from the crash.

Doucoure was driving a 2002 Freightliner tractor trailer and was entering a construction zone near mile marker 209 on the highway when the crash occurred.

He turned himself in, Oct. 10, at Clifford District Court based on a warrant. Doucoure was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Suzanne Brainard and released on $50,000 bail.

According to the affidavit, Doucoure told police at the scene that he was traveling at about 45 mph when a right front tire blew out and he swerved into the left lane where he struck several vehicles.

In an interview with troopers at the Gibson barracks later that day, Doucoure told police he had traveled from South Carolina on July 17 to Frederick, Md., where the truck had a flat tire just after midnight on July 18, according to the affidavit.

After the tire was fixed, Doucoure began his trip north to deliver his load.

According to the affidavit, Doucoure said the truck had undergone brake work a couple of months before the incident but he hadn’t had any recent issues with the brakes.

But a mechanical inspection of the vehicle, conducted by PSP MCEO Rian Stann, revealed several violations.

According to the affidavit, Doucoure was in violation of the 14-hour rule from 7:30 a.m. until the time of the crash at about 1:45 p.m.

Stann also found that the brakes on axles two and three were inoperable; the brakes on axle four were out of adjustment; the right brake of axle five was inoperable and the left brake was out of adjustment.

Casing ply was showing on tires and steel belts were showing on one tire.

A Garmin Nuvi GPs was also seize on a warrant from the vehicle.

According to the affidavit, data stored on the device indicated Doucoure was traveling at 62 mph at the approximate time of the crash and registered 3 mph about 24 seconds later.

Two drivers sustained injuries in the crash: Leonard Oliviero, 69, Kingsley, suffered a major injury in the crash; and Donna Horn, 49, Benbrook, Texas, sustained a moderate injury, according to the police report.

Police reported that Dourcoure was traveling north when he came around a right curve and forced two cars off the left side of the roadway onto the berm.

He then struck a vehicle in the rear driven by Nicholas Johnson, 32, Watertown, N.Y., causing Johnson’s vehicle to rotate.

Johnson’s vehicle then struck Oliviero’s pickup truck.

The Freightliner then hit Wilcox’s vehicle in a rear end collision, causing Wilcox to spin and hit Horn.

Wilcox’s Lexus then spun counter clockwise and coming to rest off the berm against a guide rail.

After the impact with Wilcox, Horn’s vehicle struck the ICC bar of a Freightliner driven by Brian Battaglia, 44, Amsterdam, N.Y.

Doucoure’s tractor trailer struck a guide rail with its left side, continued traveling north along the berm and hit the mirror of Battaglia’s vehicle; and then struck the rear left side of a seventh vehicle driven by Richard Poplawski, 49, Melville, N.Y.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Nov. 6 in Clifford District Court.