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Drunk driving trial continues with testimony from wife, lunch partner

Updated: January 14, 2012 8:13AM



Lake Superior Court jurors in the drunken driving death trial of a Valparaiso man heard testimony Monday about the safety guidelines that the man repairing a blown tire on a tractor trailer was trained to observe.

The testimony came as the trial of Jeffery Allen Cleary, 65, entered its second week. Cleary has pleaded not guilty to causing death while operating while intoxicated and several other charges filed in the Nov. 4, 2010, death of Phillip Amsden, 63, of Hebron.

Chuck Richter, general manager of the Boss Truck Shop in Gary, testified that under the company’s road service guidelines, the service truck should be parked at least 5 feet from the edge of the travel lane and no closer than 30 feet from the disabled truck.

In addition, cones or reflective triangles should be positioned 10 feet, 100 feet and 200 feet behind the service truck. Repair men are never to work between the disabled truck and the service truck and service men should wear safety vests for visibility.

Earlier testimony indicated the truck was about 4 feet behind the semi, which was pulled to the right shoulder at the Ridge Road ramp onto the southbound lanes of Interstate 65 in Hobart. Amsden was crushed between the two vehicles and died of aspyhxia due to blunt force trauma.

In other testimony, Cleary’s wife of 41 years, Clara, said she was on the phone with her husband at the time of the crash. “He was crying about our daughter, who passed away,” she said. “I said don’t cry, the weather is nasty,” she recalled. A short time later, she heard her husband say, “Oh no,” and then heard the sound of the crash, followed by yelling and some pounding sounds.

Clara Cleary said their daughter died in September 2009. “We talk about it every day and we cry every day,” she said.

Also testifying was John Paul Bederka Jr., of Aurora, Ill., a pharmacology and toxicology consultant hired by the defense.

Bederka estimated Cleary’s blood alcohol level would have been about .05 percent when he was at the Country Lounge in Hobart. He had less than a glass of red wine there. Bederka’s fee was $6,000.

Cleary had a blood alcohol level of between .15 and .21 according to tests.

Danette Brosky of Portage, manager of Industrial Rents, Cleary’s construction equipment rental business, was involved in a business lunch with Cleary and attorney David Woodward at Giovanni’s the day of the crash. Brosky said Cleary did not appear intoxicated and couldn’t say how many drinks Cleary consumed, but acknowledged the receipt showed six double vodka and water drinks, the two glasses of wine she drank and the bottle of wine Woodward ordered. “He wasn’t drunk when we left the restaurant,” she said. Brosky acknowledged that sometimes Cleary drinks at business lunches.



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