Truck driver held for trial in fatal I-70 wreck


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A long-haul truck driver told police he might have fallen asleep at the wheel prior to a wreck Saturday that killed a mother and daughter on Interstate 70 in Washington County, authorities said.

But Yevgeniy N. Burgreyev, 44, of West Sacramento, Calif., also told investigators that he was awake at the time of the crash.

Mr. Burgreyev "had indicated at various times throughout that statement that either he did not recall what happened, that he did not fall asleep, that he may have fallen asleep," Washington County public defender Glenn Alterio said Wednesday, basing that information on testimony given by a state trooper who spoke with his client.

"He indicated that he really didn't know what happened. Everything happened so quickly that he didn't recall how the truck got into the median or braking."

Mr. Alterio said he had not reviewed an audiotape of the interview.

A district judge held Mr. Burgreyev for trial on two counts of vehicular homicide in the deaths of Karen L. Babka, 57, and her daughter Kaitlin, 21, both of Hughesville, Md.

Prosecutors added various other vehicle code violations -- including driving at an unsafe speed -- and alleged that Mr. Burgreyev had nine discrepancies in the week before the crash between his log book and toll and weight receipts.

"He had indicated he had slept for eight or 10 hours prior to the accident in the New Stanton area," Mr. Alterio said the trooper testified.

But state police apparently found discrepancies that "seemed to indicate the vehicle was traveling at the time the log book indicated sleep was occurring," according to Mr. Alterio.

The accident occurred around 11:30 a.m. Saturday in South Strabane just east of the junction with southbound I-79.

Mr. Burgreyev was behind the wheel of a 77,000-pound tractor-trailer headed west when he crossed the center grass median, traveled 127 feet and then collided with the Babkas' car, authorities said.

Four other people in a third vehicle, two of them children, were injured.

"It was a horrific accident," Washington County District Attorney Eugene A. Vittone II said.

"We did have a trooper that interviewed the defendant, and there is some concern -- and we're investigating it further -- that he may have been asleep," Mr. Vittone said.

Mr. Burgreyev -- whose name is spelled Bugreyev at the Washington County Correctional Facility -- was hauling a load of bagged rock salt to Denver. He is a Russian national and legal permanent resident with a valid commercial driver's license, Mr. Vittone said.

"It is my understanding that immigration has spoken with Mr. Burgreyev about the possibility of deportation pending the outcome of these charges," Mr. Alterio said.

A police affidavit states that the truck would have been put out of service because of brake problems and the log book discrepancies had they been discovered during an inspection.

neigh_washington

Jonathan D. Silver: jsilver@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1962.


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