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Massena man indicted for vehicular assault


CANTON - A 54-year-old Massena man charged with being intoxicated and driving recklessly when he slammed into three other vehicles in a March accident on state Route 37 just east of the U.S. port of entry in the town of Massena has been indicted for vehicular assault and several other felony counts by a St. Lawrence County grand jury

The grand jury handed up an indictment Monday charging Joseph A. Back of 494 River Road, Akwesasne, with first-degree assault, second-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, first-degree vehicular assault, two counts of second-degree vehicular assault, aggravated driving while intoxicated and two counts of driving while intoxicated.

It is alleged that on March 27 Back was driving on Route 37 in the town of Massena with a blood alcohol content of 0.26 percent when he caused serious physical injury to Eva P. Waters, 52, of Massena.

Massena-based state police said they responded to a report of a head-on collision at approximately 8:20 p.m. March 2y on state Route 37, approximately 1,000 feet east of the entrance to the U.S. port of entry. They said their investigation revealed two other vehicles had also been involved in the accident.

Troopers said a full-size Ford pickup being operated by Backwas eastbound on Route 37 on a two-lane stretch of the roadway when he rear-ended an eastbound truck being operated by Robert S. Peter, 54, of Akwesasne, Ont.. That truck then tapped the rear end of a car in front of him being operated by Inez Seymour, 77, of Akwesasne, Ont.

The pickup truck being operated by Back veered to its left after striking the truck and collided head-on with a westbound Mazda car being operated by Ms. Waters.

Troopers said Waters was transported to Massena Memorial Hospital for treatment of two fractured ankles and a broken femur.

They said Back fled the accident scene on foot but was picked up a short distance away on Route 37 by St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police.

The grand jury also indicted:

• David J. Sawatis, 40, of 638 Donovan Road, Fort Covington, for first-degree criminal possession of marijuana.

It is alleged that at 10:31 a.m. on Dec. 19 on Route 11 in the town of Gouverneur Sawatis was in possession of more than 10 pounds of marijuana. At the time of arrest, police said it was during a traffic stop for a cracked windshield that a St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department K-9 unit drug-sniffing dog helped find 15 pounds of marijuana inside a “hidden compartment” in the vehicle.

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