SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

October 30, 2013

Mom pleads not guilty to driving drunk

Police say Salem woman's 5-year-old son warned her to get off train tracks

BEVERLY — Though he’s just 5 years old, the scared, shivering little boy knew exactly what could happen as his mom drove down the train tracks.

He told her to get off the tracks, because a train might be coming. But his mother wouldn’t listen.

After traveling half a mile on commuter rail tracks from Route 62, over a railroad bridge at Federal Street to the Beverly Depot, where she crashed, a swaying Michelle M. LeClair, 46, of Salem told police she was simply on her way home and believed she was on Bridge Street in Salem, according to a police report filed in the Friday-night incident.

Police said she had to be stopped from getting back into her 1999 Ford Explorer, which was badly damaged and leaking gasoline onto the tracks. The crash shut down commuter rail service on that section of the line for the night.

Yesterday, LeClair pleaded not guilty to charges of drunken driving, child endangerment, driving to endanger and failing to stay within marked lanes

She was released by Salem District Court Judge Matthew Nestor on $1,000 bail, posted by her brother, with conditions that include no use of alcohol, random tests to ensure that she is complying with that order and no driving.

At the scene and, later, at the police station, LeClair, who had a blood alcohol level of .18, more than twice the legal limit, appeared to have no idea what had happened. She kept asking, “Where is my car? Where is my son? Where is my cellphone?”

Police later learned that in addition to alcohol, LeClair had taken two prescribed drugs, Seroquel and Klonopin.

It was up to her young son and other witnesses, including her also-intoxicated boyfriend, to explain, according to police.

As he rode to the hospital in an ambulance to be checked out, the little boy told Patrolman Mark Panjwani that he felt like he was still on the railroad tracks and “kept asking why his mother wouldn’t listen to him and get off the train tracks,” Panjwani wrote.

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