Tractor-trailer driver involved in fatal crash charged with manslaughter
By Ken Childers
Manslaughter charges have been filed against a truck driver who was allegedly under the influence of alcohol at the time of a fatal crash that occurred near Okemah in June.
Michael LeMay, 28, was killed when his pickup was struck by a tractor-trailer driven by 65-year-old Eldon McCoy of Eufaula. Investigators say McCoy admitted in a hospital interview that he had been drinking beer prior to the wreck and stated that he had poured beer into a cup in his truck.
McCoy was charged last week with first-degree manslaughter, a crime punishable by at least four years in prison. The charges were filed Oct. 21 by the Okfuskee County District Attorney’s office.
According to an affidavit, McCoy was northbound in a 2004 Sterling tractor-trailer on Highway 56 when it drifted off the right side of the roadway and traveled for “a significant distance.” Trooper Tim Baker, an investigator with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s Traffic Homicide Unit, wrote in the affidavit that there was “no evident steering input” until the truck struck an elevated driveway. McCoy then over- corrected to the left, entered a broad slide and struck Lemay’s pickup on the driver’s side. The tractor-trailer was left overturned alongside the highway and the pickup was damaged extensively.
LeMay sustained multiple injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene by Creek Nation Emergency Services personnel. McCoy was transported to the Creek Nation Hospital in Okemah then flown to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, where Trooper Colt Duncan initiated a blood draw with the consent of McCoy.
According to the affidavit, Duncan could smell alcohol on McCoy and he observed six clues when he administered the horizontal gaze nystagmus portion of the standardized field sobriety test. Toxicology results later showed that McCoy’s blood alcohol content was .069 and he also tested positive for Citalopram, an antidepressant used to treat major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and social phobia.
The crash occurred Tuesday, June 23 at approximately 12:37 p.m. on Highway 56, about two miles north of Okemah, near the intersection of East 1070. Lemay was a graduate of Okemah High School.