Legally blind driver charged in Leechburg pedestrian's death
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Michael Shaley, who is legally blind, knew he wasn't supposed to drive, police said.
But he did anyway, police said, and in October struck a pedestrian who later died.
Mr. Shaley, 58, of Leechburg has been charged in the death of 64-year-old Linda A. Lucchino. He faces a felony count each of homicide by vehicle and aggravated assault; involuntary manslaughter; two counts of simple assault; careless driving, unintentional death; and reckless driving.
Mr. Shaley was driving southbound on Third Street in Leechburg, Armstrong County, about 9:24 a.m. Oct. 6 in a Chevrolet pickup truck when "he thought he hit something, but was not sure," according to court documents filed by Leechburg police. When he stopped to check, he told police he found Mrs. Lucchino.
An officer who responded to the crash said Mrs. Lucchino was "flailing in the center of the roadway" when he arrived.
Mr. Shaley told police "he had no idea" where she was before he hit her, as he is legally blind.
Mrs. Lucchino, a retired librarian, was transported to Allegheny General Hospital and was surviving through life support only, police said. She remained under hospital or hospice care until her death Dec. 11, police said.
"She was a very nice lady, and he is a very nice man," Mr. Shaley's attorney Daniel Joseph said. "He has no prior record; this was just a terrible accident."
Mr. Shaley, a construction worker, has a degenerative medical condition, and his "eyesight is diminished far below the standard that is necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle," according to court documents.
Police say Mr. Shaley knew his eyesight did not meet standards set by the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles, and he has sought medical treatment for the condition affecting his vision. His doctor had advised him not to drive, police said.
His decision to operate a vehicle anyway, police say, demonstrates gross negligence.
Mr. Shaley had a valid Pennsylvania driver's licence at the time of the accident, Mr. Joseph said.
A preliminary hearing will be held at 10:30 a.m. April 10.
First Published March 8, 2013 12:00 am