Legally blind man charged in fatal traffic accident



LEECHBURG, Pa. - Police are accusing a Leechburg man of driving a borrowed truck that hit and killed a woman in the borough in October even though they say he knew he is legally blind.

Michael Shaley, 58, was charged by Leechburg police Wednesday with the death of Linda Lucchino, 64.

Lucchino, a retired Apollo-Ridge School District librarian, was critically injured along Third Street while she was walking to a beauty shop on Oct. 6 for her weekly hair appointment.

She had surgery, was put on life support, and was in a nursing home when she died Dec. 11. Shaley is charged with vehicular homicide, involuntary manslaughter, careless driving and related offenses.

In an affidavit, police allege that Shaley knew he has bad eyesight and is legally blind but still drove his daughter's truck and struck Lucchino.

Police allege Shaley's eyesight is well below the state standard to drive. Police said medical records also show that a physician told him not to drive.

According to police, Shaley reported that he thought he hit something, but wasn't sure. So he got out of the truck and walked back to find a stricken Lucchino in the middle of the road.

He also allegedly told an officer that he didn't know where the woman was before striking her “due to the fact he is legally blind.”

Janice Vovaris, who runs the Leechburg hair salon where Lucchino was walking, said she remembers the day it happened.

“She came every Saturday faithfully at 9:30 in the morning,” Vovaris said. “It was just shocking. Up to this day it’s hard to believe.”

The affidavit said Shaley described for police the limitations of his eyesight, saying, “I can see the badge on your shirt.” The officer was 2 to 3 feet away. When asked by an officer if he could read letters on the side of a Lower Kiski Ambulance about 10 feet away, Shaley allegedly said, “No, I cannot see that far.” The officer said the letters are 6 to 8 inches tall.

Shaley was formally charged Wednesday afternoon. He was released in lieu of $100,000 non-monetary bond pending a preliminary hearing April 10.

Police said Shaley has no criminal record.


Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE  contributed to this report.