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Trucker in fatality cleared of criminality

No criminal charges are being filed against the driver of a tanker truck that struck and killed a worker on the back of a truck painting lines on the Niagara Thruway last November, State Police said Monday.

The accident, shortly after 5 a.m. Nov. 16, claimed the life of David Baldi, 27, of Hamburg, who worked for an Orchard Park line-painting company.

State Police said Monday that the driver of the tanker truck, Dale Hersh, 61, of Cohocton, Steuben County, was charged with two noncriminal violations: moving unsafely from a lane and being a "fatigued operator." The latter charge is part of state Transportation Law.

Hersh told police that he was tired and drowsy and that he had taken allergy medication before the crash, State Police Investigator John J. McCusker said. Investigators compiled evidence before conferring with the Erie County District Attorney's Office about possible criminal negligence.

"They decided there wasn't enough proof to file criminal charges," McCusker said.

The fatal accident occurred as the painting truck was in the far-right southbound lane of the Niagara Thruway as it passes over Babcock Street, police have said. Baldi and a co-worker were on the back of the painting truck, which was followed by two trucks equipped with arrow boards to alert motorists behind the trucks.

State Police have said the tanker truck went around the two arrow boards and drifted back into the right lane, far enough to clip the back of the painting truck.

e-mail: gwarner@buffnews.com

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