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DUI-dump truck trial is delayed

September 16, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A man charged with triggering a traffic accident that killed three people last summer will not stand trial next week as had been planned, because a crucial witness is a National Guardsman stationed in Baghdad.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said Monday morning that she petitioned to have the witness released from his military obligation, but the request was denied. Military officials may not have realized how important the witness - Public Service Commission Officer John Skaggs - is to the case, she said.

Immediately after the July 10, 2002, wreck, Skaggs took Brian W. Strobridge, 38, to City Hospital in Martinsburg, where blood and urine samples were taken. Authorities alleged that tests done on the samples showed cocaine was present in Strobridge's system, and police charged Strobridge, who was driving the dump truck that triggered the crash, with three counts of driving under the influence causing death.

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Skaggs is an important witness for several reasons, including the fact that he obtained consent forms signed by Strobridge that allowed hospital employees to take the samples, Games-Neely said.

Had the military granted the request, Skaggs would have been taken to Kuwait City and then flown back here, which would have cost around $3,000, Games-Neely said.

Strobridge's trial is now set to begin Jan. 27.

The wreck happened at around 4:45 p.m. on W.Va. 9 east of Martinsburg, on the bridge that crosses the Opequon Creek.

Terry Lee Walker Jr., 17, of Leetown, W.Va., who was driving a red Jeep Wrangler was killed, as was Carleton Wilcox, 20, of Charles Town, W.Va., who was a passenger in the Jeep.

Also killed was Marian Rao, 51, of Martinsburg. Her car was the first one hit by the dump truck.

After hitting Rao's car, the dump truck driven by Strobridge collided head-on with the Jeep, pushing it against the bridge's railing and then across the road, police said. Wilcox was ejected, and Walker's body was trapped in the wreckage for several hours.

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