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Tupper Lake man blames police officer for accident

The man involved in a car accident with a police officer last Wednesday in the village of Tupper Lake is telling his side of the story.

Tupper Lake resident Richard Pickering said he was heading westbound on Demars Boulevard when a police cruiser in front of him pulled onto the shoulder.

Pickering said the officer never signaled his intent.

"He just drifted over to the right hand shoulder," he said. "Then all of a sudden, he whipped a U-turn right in front of me."

Officer Wesley Hoyt was driving a 2007 Dodge Charger when he attempted to change lanes in pursuit of a speeding vehicle, according to state police.

Pickering, who was driving a Dodge pickup truck, said he tried to avoid Hoyt by braking and veering into the left hand lane. He said the officer didn't attempt to slow down or change course.

Contrary to a preliminary state police report, Pickering said Hoyt never turned on his emergency lights. Several pedestrians witnessed the accident, but village police said their reports are conflicting.

Regardless of whether he turned on his lights, Pickering said there wouldn't have been time to avoid the officer's sudden maneuver. He said traffic was moving at about 35 miles per hour when Hoyt attempted the U-turn.

"Either he didn't care that I was behind him or he didn't see me," Pickering said.

Pickering said both vehicles were smashed up in the middle of the street and the scene wasn't cleared until around 6:30 p.m. He said his insurance company would seek reimbursement from the village for damages.

Village police Chief Tom Fee is on vacation in Florida, and a state police sergeant from Schroon Lake was called in to investigate the accident.

Sergeant Eric Proulx said the state police investigation is ongoing and would not discuss the accident or speculate on who was at fault.

Proulx said no one was injured in the accident and no tickets have been issued yet. He said the police cruiser was seriously damaged.

Village police were hoping the patrol car would be replaced with a new one in the upcoming budget.

The village is also considering adding another police officer.

Fee told village officials during a budget meeting earlier this month that the squad is understaffed and getting "burned out" with excessive overtime.

Proulx said he did not know if fatigue was a factor in the accident.

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