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February 22, 2013

Man charged in crash fails to appear in court

HAVERHILL — A Haverhill man who was involved in a head-on crash in December 2011 seriously injuring himself and an elderly couple failed to appear at a trial assignment hearing on Wednesday in Salem Superior Court.

The lawyer for William Copeland, 57, said Copeland broke his arm and was unable to appear. Judge John Lu ordered Copeland to report to probation and scheduled a hearing April 3 at which a trial date is expected be set.

Copeland, of 1178 North Broadway, was charged with two counts of drunken driving causing serious bodily injury, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (motor vehicle), negligent operation and two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (motor vehicle) on a person over 60.

Police said Copeland crashed head on into an elderly couple on the afternoon of Christmas Eve 2011. He was subsequently charged with drunken driving.

Copeland claimed that the elderly couple hit his truck, although police say he was in their lane going the wrong way.

Copeland was summonsed to Haverhill District Court early last year to answer to the charges, but due to his injuries from the accident and because there is no elevator in the building, his case was transferred to Newburyport District Court, where at his arraignment he was released on personal recognizance, with conditions that included no driving, no drinking or drug use, and that he be subject to random drug and alcohol screens.

Copeland was subsequently indicted on the charges Aug. 20 and was arraigned in Salem Superior Court Sept. 20.

Stephen O’Connell, a spokesman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, said a determination was made to indict Copeland in superior court due to the seriousness of the victims’ injuries.

According to police, on the afternoon of Dec. 24, 2011, Copeland was driving his 2005 Ford F-150 pickup truck north on his street when he struck a utility pole near 1020 North Broadway. Police said his vehicle crossed the center line and collided with a Ford Explorer. Police said the occupants of the Explorer — James Foley, 63, and Carol Foley, 65, both of Sandown, N.H. — received serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.

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