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Fort Pierce News (FL)
January 29, 1999

Edition: St. Lucie County
Section: A Section
Page: A2

Article Text:FORT PIERCE - A trailer hauling two large cement mixers broke loose from the back of a moving truck last Wednesday and struck a 4-year-old girl playing in the front yard of her South 25th Street house.

Brittany Leavesley was sitting on her front lawn playing with a purple toy truck about 5 p.m. when the trailer crossed at least two lanes of traffic and careened onto her play area near the driveway of her house at 2521 S. 25th St., Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Mac Mickens said.

Brittany was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach and remains in serious but stable condition. Mickens said the girl was thrown onto the next-door neighbor's yard before the cement mixers and trailer crashed into a red Pontiac Sunbird and a red and white Ford truck parked on Brittany's front yard. Robert N. Tucholski, 47, of 3044 Oleander Blvd., was towing the trailer on the back of a large crane truck from R&J Crane Service while northbound on 25th Street before the trailer separated.

Tucholski will be charged with improperly securing the trailer, said Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Pembrook Burrows. Burrows said Tuesday that Tucholski neglected to hook up the safety chains that would have prevented the accident. Tucholski told investigators on the day of the accident that the chains had been connected.

Onlookers gathered in neighboring yards as the sun went down, watching troopers and sheriff's deputies gather evidence from the mixers and other vehicles in the yard where Brittany's broken toys lay scattered. Next-door neighbor Kimberly DeCamp, 11, said she heard screams, then her brother ran in the house and told her to call the police because Brittany was hurt..

"I heard people yelling "Brittany's been hit," DeCamp said as she fought back tears. "Her mom was shaking and crying, and the whole family went to the hospital." DeCamp said Brittany often played in her front yard with her toys and the family's puppies. Brittany's parents, Helen and James Leavesley, filed suit against the crane company Monday afternoon, alleging Tucholski negligently operated the crane truck, which caused the trailer to break loose and injure Brittany.

"It doesn't get much worse than this," said West Palm Beach attorney Adam Doner, who represents the Leavesleys. "Brittany's been in and out of a coma with traumatic head injuries." A representative from R&J Crane Services said he could not comment about the lawsuit because he had not consulted the company's attorney.

Doner said that he sent investigators to the scene Monday afternoon and that the trailer was not appropriate for carrying the mixing buckets. He also said he thinks an incorrect hitch was used to attach the trailer to the crane truck. "I believe that's what the police will come to find," Doner said. The lawsuit claims Brittany has suffered disfigurement, mental anguish and loss of ability to earn money. Helen Leavesley, who witnessed the accident, also claims she has suffered psychological trauma, according to the lawsuit.

"Helen Leavesley, while sitting on her front lawn watching her daughter playing a few feet away saw and heard a trailer crash into her child throwing the child into the air and landing in a neighbor's yard," the lawsuit states. Doner said Helen Leavesley was sitting only a few feet away from Brittany. She has spent most of the past two days with her daughter in the hospital, he said. "I'm sure she's going to suffer more when she has time to settle down, but she's got to take care of her cub first," he said. Caption:

(B/W) photo by Ian Solender: Robert N. Tuchoiski of R & J Crane Services talks with Florida Highway Patrolman Mac Mickens last Wednesday after a trailer attached to his truck came loose and struck a 4-year-old girl playing in her yard at 2621 S. 25th St. in Fort Pierce.
All content copyright (c) 1999 Fort Pierce News and may not be republished without permission.
Record Number: 1027E24D686A3D5D

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