NEWS

Alex Dragaytsev says he's not responsible for fatal Wyoming pile-up

04/28/2015 01:31 EDT | Updated 08/02/2015 09:59 EDT
A Longueuil man who was blamed for a fatal 64-vehicle pile up on a Wyoming highway last week says he was not at fault and wants to clear his name.

"When I was in jail, I thought about maybe if I did some mistake, maybe I did something wrong, you know," Alex Dragaytsev told CBC's Daybreak.

"But when I turned the situation around, I just got the answer that no, I did everything by the law. I did everything right."

Dragaytsev says he was driving under the speed limit in dense fog and light slush of April 20 when he lost control on black ice. He had to choose between running off the road, or hitting the vehicle in front of him.

"I decided to hit because my speed was not high," he said. "I had a small accident It's not big damage. My truck doesn't have big damage. It's just a bumper and stuff like this."

The two vehicles pulled off to the side of the road, leaving two lanes for traffic to pass by. Not long after, another truck hit the pair stopped.

"Some other truck lost control — he jackknifed and hit the trailer that was behind me," he said.
"He pulled his trailer off the highway and then the accident began. All the other drivers they were not able to stop because it was black ice on the road and probably they had speed a little bit higher. "

The crash sent more than two dozen to hospital and closed the highway for 160 kilometres. Dragaytsev said he waited outside for 11 hours as police investigated. He says he was told to "do some exercises" when he told the officers he was cold.

Eventually, he was arrested and taken to a jail cell where he was told he would be charged with aggravated vehicular homicide. Police released his picture to the media.

'They judged me as the killer Quebec driver'

Authorities in Albany County later said there wasn't enough evidence to support that charge and Dragaytsev was released with a $60 fine for failure to use caution for hazardous conditions.

"I'm disappointed by the police because they just judged me...They had no right to charge me as a killer because they had no evidence and they had nothing, " he said.

"And then I'm disappointed with the media...They judged me as the killer Quebec driver. They said that I killed two people and I sent 25 to the hospital."

The Wyoming Highway Patrol say their investigation is ongoing and more charges could be filed.

Dragaytsev believes that he was blamed simply because he was the first vehicle in the chain, but maintains that he did everything he could and that road conditions and speed of the other drivers are what actually caused the pile up.

"I want to say to the people who died that I am sorry for them, but I want their families to know that I'm not involved in this accident."

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