Kevin P. McCabe was under the influence of an illegal narcotic when he drove his pickup truck into the back of a tractor-trailer last October in Sardinia, a collision that took the life of his 4-year-old son, Tristan.
There also was no evidence that McCabe ever applied his brakes before ramming into the back of the rig, which had slowed to make a right-hand turn into a business, investigators said.
McCabe was charged Tuesday with felony vehicular manslaughter in the death of the boy, and may face further charges in connection with injuries that his 8-year-old niece suffered in the crash.
Scott M. Joslyn, chief of police services for the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, reiterated the tragic nature of the crash and said of McCabe that “regardless of the circumstances, he lost his son in the accident.”
Sheriff’s investigators secured a warrant to get a sample of McCabe’s blood several days after the crash and were able to confirm the presence of the narcotic, Joslyn said. He declined to identify what drug McCabe had used.
The crash occurred Oct. 8 on a stretch of Olean Road/Route16 with a 55 mph speed limit. There was no evidence that McCabe, 32, was exceeding the speed limit, Joslyn said.
McCabe was driving a midsize pickup with a bench front seat. Both children were in that seat, with the boy in the center and his older cousin on the passenger side.
The crash was so powerful that about half the pickup became wedged under the trailer.
Investigators were able to reconstruct what happened with the help of several witnesses, including some who saw the collision and others who noticed the pickup traveling erratically before the crash, said Sgt. Eric D. Kaderli of the Sheriff’s Crash Investigation Unit. The driver had ample time to see the tractor-trailer before the crash, on a clear with dry pavement, Kaderli said.
McCabe was seriously injured in the crash and had to be extricated by rescuers. The 8-year-old niece suffered a broken leg. Both children were taken to Women & Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, where the boy died two days later.
Joslyn said McCabe was moving from Kenmore to Belfast in Allegany County, driving a load of household items to the new residence when the crash occurred.
Arraignment was scheduled for Tuesday evening in Sardinia Town Court.