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An Erie County grand jury Thursday indicted two drivers allegedly involved in a road-rage incident on the Thruway in Evans last month that has left a West Seneca man hospitalized in a coma.

Laurence A. Trembling, 35, of Seneca Street, West Seneca, pleaded innocent to a felony charge of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving, speeding, making an unsafe lane change and following too closely in the crash that severely injured David Rappold, 22, of Westgate Boulevard, West Seneca. The driver of the car in which Rappold was a passenger, Eric Barton, 18, of Big Tree Road, Hamburg, pleaded innocent to speeding and making an unsafe lane change. His car crashed into an embankment along the Thruway median just east of the Eden-Angola exit about 5 p.m. July 18.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice John Lane allowed both defendants to remain free on their own recognizance.

Trembling, a self-employed landscape architect and bartender, and Barton both declined to comment. Neither testified before the grand jury, sources confirmed.

Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark and prosecutor Leonard E. Krawczyk Jr. said Rappold remains in a coma in Erie County Medical Center.

Krawczyk said Trembling is accused of driving his pickup truck in front of Barton's car at high speed as Barton attempted to pass him. They allegedly had been driving fast and cutting off each other for some distance on the Thruway.

Barton, who suffered a separated shoulder in the crash, faces a possible 15-day jail term, but Trembling faces up to seven years in prison if convicted as charged, court officials said.

Attorneys representing Rappold's parents are preparing a lawsuit against one or both of the drivers, court sources confirmed.

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