Liberian Trucker Facing Charges in Canonsburg Crash

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A Minnesota truck driver was arrested Monday night by Canonsburg police in connection with a crash earlier in the day that injured a Canonsburg woman after problems were found with his rig, including a brake chamber secured to the vehicle with a bungee cord.

Abraham Toure, 35, of St. Paul, Minn., USA, was arraigned before District Judge David Mark on charges of risking a catastrophe, reckless endangerment, operating a vehicle with defective brakes and failing to follow out-of-service criteria after his rig slammed broadside into a car driven by Cheryl Lynn Martorana.

Toure, a Liberian, is in the United States illegally after his visa expired, police Chief Alex Coghill said.

“We charged him with causing or risking a catastrophe because he went through that busy intersection at rush hour,” Coghill said. “It was a miracle that no other driver was going through that intersection (and that there wasn’t anyone) in the lot.”

Martorana was driving east on Morganza Road, crossing the intersection with Weavertown Road about 7:30 a.m., when her car was hit by the rig driven by Toure, who was driving on Weavertown. Her Honda Accord was shoved by the tractor-trailer more than 188 feet across Morganza, down a small dirt embankment and across the Walgreens parking lot.

Toure told Canonsburg police the brakes failed on his rig and he was not able to stop. He told police he had just made a left onto Weavertown from the Canonsburg exit of Interstate 79 northbound.

Three certified motor carrier inspectors checked the truck for deficiencies and found, in addition to the problem with the brake, the service airline to the trailer was disconnected and there was a defective air chamber on one of the axles.

Toure told the inspectors he saw the defects during a stop in Gary, Ind. Police said it is a driver’s responsibility to visually inspect and maintain brakes and other items during a pre-trip inspection. Police said Toure also continued to drive the rig past his 11-hour limit without taking 10 hours off-duty for rest.

The truck is owned by M and D Trucking of Eden Prairie, Minn.

Officials in Butler County also plan to put a detainer on Toure. He was found guilty by a district judge in 2013 on a charge of violating size and weight limits filed by Jackson Township police. Online court records show he still owes $4,934.50 on a $5,234.50 fine and costs imposed by the court.

Toure was placed in Washington County jail on $500,000 bond. He also faces several traffic violations and is scheduled for a March 31 preliminary hearing.

The Canonsburg woman whose vehicle was hit was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital Monday morning after her vehicle was hit broadside on the passenger side by Toure’s tractor-trailer.

Cheryl Lynn Martorana, 57, was driving east on Morganza Road, crossing the intersection with Weavertown Road in Canonsburg just after 7:30 a.m., when she was hit by the tractor-trailer driven by Toure.

Martorana had to be freed from the wreckage by Canonsburg and North Strabane firefighters. O’Rourke said she was flown to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, where she was in stable condition Monday morning.

Culled from OBSERVER-REPORTER newspaper of Washington County, MN, USA.

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