Fatal accidents require tests

It is inspiring to see how quickly people can go from mourning the loss of a friend and loved one to helping others.

Some friends and family of Edward Lakata are advocating for “Eddie’s Law,” which would require anyone involved in a fatal or injury-causing car accident to take a drug test to see whether they are under the influence.

Lakata, a Johnstown musician and engineer, was riding a bicycle northwest on Route 29A in the town of Johnstown on June 25 when he was struck and killed by a pickup truck driven by 48-year-old John Damphier.

No tickets were issued, and alcohol was no factor in that accident, Fulton?County Sheriff Thomas Lorey said.

However, after a separate incident, Damphier was charged Aug. 1 with driving while ability impaired by drugs, failure to keep right, improper lane usage, and possession of a controlled substance outside its original container.

Cynthia Lakata, Edward Lakata’s wife, filed a civil negligence lawsuit Aug. 5 against John P. Damphier and his employer, Cranesville Block Co. of Amsterdam. Court papers allege Damphier has a “propensity” to drive while impaired by prescription drugs and while using a cellular phone.

Damphier, commenting on both cases, said “I feel I’m 100 percent innocent.”

Damphier was not tested for alcohol or drugs after the June 25 fatal crash.

We support testing anytime there is a fatal accident. A very basic question – whether the drivers involved were impaired by drugs or alcohol – should be definitively answered.

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