The tractor-trailer driver blamed for Wednesday’s fatal crash on the Northway has been suspended by his employer as State Police continue to investigate whether criminal charges should be filed.
State Police said Everon J. Meadows was headed to the Hannaford store in Queensbury with a load of produce when he fell asleep, drifted off the northbound side of the Northway and hit guardrails near Exit 18 in Queensbury.
His truck landed on its side, with the tractor portion on the right travel lane, when seconds later another tractor-trailer slammed into it. That truck and Meadows’ vehicle burst into flames, and the driver of the second truck died as he was unable to escape his vehicle.
Meadows, 50, of Springfield, Massachusetts, had bailed out of his truck at that point and was not hurt.
Police said he initially told them he had stopped his truck off the highway to check on a maintenance issue when the oncoming vehicle went off the road and hit his.
But confronted with evidence from the crash scene that seemed to show the collision happened in the right lane, he admitted, when questioned again Thursday morning, that he had dozed off, crashed first and his truck was in the highway.
State Police have not released the name of the man who died, as he was burned beyond recognition. They believe they know who he is, but continued to await formal confirmation of his identity through DNA comparison Friday.
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Meadows has not been charged, and could face a misdemeanor for the initial false statement, but investigators are also scrutinizing his travel log and hours driven as they try to determine what, if any, criminal charges are warranted.
He has not responded to a Post-Star request for comment made Friday.
The driver who died was operating a truck for New Penn Motor Express of Pennsylvania, and a call to the company for comment has not been returned.
State Police have located at least one driver who saw a Hannaford truck driving “erratically” in the area moments before the crash, and another driver called 911 to report a truck rollover at Exit 18 shortly before the collision was reported.
Meadows was working for ADUSA Transportation LLC, and spokesman Erin DeWaters said the company’s “thoughts and prayers are with the victim and family.”
“The associate involved ... has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. We are cooperating fully with authorities,” she said in an email.
The crash closed the highway at Exit 18 for 14 hours and caused major traffic tie-ups on the Northway and on alternate routes.