Criminal defense attorney Paul J. Cambria, Jr. was asked by WBEN to discuss the likelihood of criminal charges against the driver who lost control of his Chevy Malibu on the Scajaquada Expressway in Buffalo, NY, on May 30. After losing control of his vehicle, the driver careened into Delaware Park, killing three-year-old Maksym Sugorovskiy and seriously wounding the boy’s five-year-old sister, Stephanie.
Listen to the full interview at WBEN’s website.
The driver, who has not been identified, told police he fell asleep while driving right before the accident took place.
Reckless behavior not yet determined
Asked why the driver has not been charged with a crime, Mr. Cambria said, “In every situation, you look for indications of criminal conduct, so you would look for drugs, alcohol, speeding. As far as sleep deprivation is concerned, unless you can prove that someone had stayed up for a day and a half, and therefore driving after something like that was negligent or reckless conduct on their part, you really wouldn’t be able to charge them.”
He continued, “Apparently someone else is claiming that they immediately saw [the driver after the crash] with a cell phone in his hand, and whether or not he called 911, or whether—someone said they saw him slumped over—he was actually looking at his cell phone, all those things have to be played out.”
Responding to questions about whether the driver could be charged for falling asleep at the wheel, Mr. Cambria said his “conduct would have to be negligent or reckless in order for it to be criminal or actionable. You’d have to have something out of the ordinary. People from time to time might doze off during the day. That’s one thing,” he said, “but if you had deliberately stayed up for one reason or another and then drove, somebody could try to make an argument that that is reckless or negligent conduct, and it should be actionable. Just going about your regular day and dozing off is not really a criminal situation.”
Investigating the moments prior to the crash
The interviewers asked Mr. Cambria whether the police can be expected to be looking into what the driver was doing before the crash. For instance, was he checking his phone or speeding?
“Exactly,” Mr. Cambria replied. “They’ll get his phone records. They may have his actual phone. They’ll look at whether at or near that time there’s any kind of texting or phone call or anything like that . . . You can bet they’re looking at all of that.”
About Paul Cambria
The chair of Lipsitz Green’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, Mr. Cambria advises clients on constitutional and First Amendment law, zoning and land use, antitrust, and professional licensing defense in addition to providing criminal defense representation. He has represented many prominent individuals, including the publisher Larry Flynt and musicians DMX and Marilyn Manson. Mr. Cambria practices across the country from the firm’s offices in Buffalo and Los Angeles.