Sleepy operator charged

Florence Koziol looks over Pond Brook on her Holyoke Road property where a vehicle came to rest, almost submerged in the bank-full brook, after a driver operating westbound fell asleep and failed to negotiate a curve. (Photo by The Westfield News/Carl E. Hartdegen)

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – A Springfield man, and his passenger, ended up wet – and presumably chilled – but suffered no serious injury when he fell asleep while driving.

City police responded to several callers Wednesday afternoon who reported, shortly before 5 p.m., that a car had failed to negotiate a curve on Holyoke Road and was almost submerged in Pond Brook.

Officer Sean Smith was the first emergency responder to arrive and reports he found both occupants had exited the 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse safely. The operator told Smith that he had been tired and said was falling asleep as he was driving westbound and fell asleep before he reached the curve over the brook.

The vehicle, Smith found, had crossed the center line of the roadway before going off the road and into the brook. Both the operator and his passenger complained of injuries resulting from the air bags when they deployed and both were transported to Noble Hospital for treatment. Both were treated and released.

The operator was charged with a marked lanes violation but that charge is under review. Capt. Michael McCabe points out that a motor vehicle operator has an obligation to drive safely and, if a driver finds him or herself to be falling asleep, that operator should immediately pull over and stop driving until it is safe to resume travel. He questioned if a charge of reckless or negligent operation of a motor vehicle would be more appropriate.

Media Credit: The Westfield News

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