The driver of the PSEG utility truck involved in the fatal head-on collision on Flanders Road Jan. 16, 2014, has been indicted on charges of criminally negligent homicide and reckless driving.
According to Riverhead Local, it was revealed that Michael Pepe, 54, of Bayport, the driver of the PSEG utility truck that hit Barbara Tocci's SUV, "was having an extended text conversation with his girlfriend at the time of the crash," according to a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.
In his original statement, Pepe told investigating officers he hit a pothole in the road and lost control of the vehicle according to the Southampton Town Police police accident report. The report lists Pepe’s use of a hand-held cell phone and “defective pavement” as factors in the crash.
Pepe, in his GMC southbound utility truck, crossed into the oncoming lane of traffic on Flanders Road and hit Tocci, who was on her way to work in Riverhead, head-on. Tocci was pronounced dead at the scene.
Pepe was released on $100,000 bond following his arraignment on a felony criminally negligent homicide charge this afternoon at Suffolk County Criminal Court in Central Islip.
When asked for a statement regarding the accident, a PSEG Long Island spokesperson told Utility Fleet eNews, "With charges and an ongoing investigation pending, PSEG Long Island cannot comment at this time.”
Tocci, 47, was heavily involved with the Flanders-Northampton Volunteer Ambulance, and was a Flanders native who whose family lives in Flanders and is active in the local community.
Pepe is next scheduled to appear before Judge Camacho on March 3.