By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer
A New York trucking company is making the city prove its driver is the one who knocked down an expensive new streetlight Jan. 21 in downtown Sharon.
The city has a witness to the accident but his description didn’t convince the company’s insurer to pay for the damage, City Manager Scott Andrejchak said.
As a result, city solicitor William J. Madden filed a lawsuit Thursday in Mercer County Common Pleas Court seeking damages for negligence.
The complaint says the trailer of the rig owned by Long Island Pipe Supply, Garden City, N.Y., destroyed the light pole and luminary at the corner of Pitt Street and Shenango Avenue.
The complaint says the cost of replacing the light “will exceed $7,140.” The lawsuit seeks a judgment for costs and interest “not to exceed $25,000.”
Tony DeMaio saw the trailer jump the curb and called 911 when the driver, identified in the lawsuit as Dale Lezatte, didn’t stop.
DeMaio provided enough descriptive information of the truck for police and City Manager Scott Andrejchak to find out quickly that the rig was operated by a driver for Long Island Pipe Supply, Albany, N.Y. He had picked up a load of pipe at about 4 p.m. at the Wheatland Tube plant at Penn Avenue and Mill Street.
“I used to drive trucks,” said DeMaio, a city resident who works as a bus driver for Watson’s Inc. in Jefferson Township. “I could see that he needed another 6 or 8 feet to make that turn at Shenango Avenue and Pitt Street. He clipped the pole with the trailer’s rear tandem wheels.”
When the trucking company’s insurer called a few days later, DeMaio repeated what he had seen but the insurance company later decided not to pay for the damage, denying that the trucking company was responsible, Andrejchak said.
A Herald call to the trucking company was not immediately returned.
The $7,140 total is made up of $6,240 for the pole and two costly LED luminaries and $900 labor, Andrejchak said.
Sharon has lost two lights installed last summer during a streetscape upgrade of downtown lights and sidewalks.
The first – which is being processed by the driver’s insurance – was knocked down on East State Street during the icy morning of Dec. 31 next to Community Library of the Shenango Valley.
“They haven’t approved the claim yet but I have no reason to think they won’t pay for the damage on that one,” Andrejchak said.