Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Runaway trailer hits car head-on; mom, kid hurt

Runaway trailer hits car head-on; mom, kid hurt

A driver for a North Haven trucking company named one of Connecticut's most unsafe motor carriers allegedly caused an accident on Waite Street Thursday that injured a mother and her child. Valerie Chieppo, 48, and Timothy Chieppo, 7, both of Ansonia, were seriously injured when their vehicle was struck head-on by a towed trailer detached from a Winter Ridge company truck at about 8:30 a.m., police said.

Both mother and son were treated at the scene, then admitted to Yale-New Haven Hospital, said Officer Richard Dziekan, who helped investigate the accident. Valerie Chieppo was listed in good condition and Timothy in fair condition by Thursday afternoon, a hospital official said.

Dziekan said the truck driver, Billy Madden, 31, of 62 Midhill Road, Hamden, was charged with failure to perform a proper truck inspection. Winter Ridge was also charged with a number of motor vehicle violations.

According to Dziekan, the Winter Ridge truck was traveling west on Waite Street when a trailer carrying an asphalt roller came loose. The trailer detached, went into the oncoming lane and struck a 1988 Cadillac Fleetwood head on, Dziekan said. Waite Street, from Ridge Road to Whitney Avenue, was closed for about four hours, police said.

In August, Gov. M. Jodi Rell ordered state Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Ralph J. Carpenter to identify the 25 in-state motor carriers in the state with the poorest safety ratings. Winter Ridge was on the list.

Company lawyer William S. Palmieri said Winter Ridge has cooperated with a state audit and inspection. "Primarily the fleet is in very good shape," he said. The inspection revealed "a number of small issues - things that do not affect fundamental safety or road- worthiness."

"We want to take every possible step we can and prevent accidents to the extent that they can be prevented," Palmieri said.

William K. Seymour, spokesman for the state Department of Motor Vehicles, said companies on the state list are being reviewed. "Any found with deficiencies are being ordered to make the repairs and we will go back and reinspect," he said.

Assistant Metro Editor Ann DeMatteo contributed to this report.

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