Collision center owner goes on trial for crash that paralyzed victim

March 06, 2018 06:16 PM

The trial of John Cole is getting underway in Saratoga County Court. He's charged with driving while intoxicated and causing an accident that left a woman a quadriplegic.

Cole, 53, is the well-known owner of Cole's Collision Centers. The Clifton Park man is being tried on assault and vehicular assault charges. Both charges are felonies. He's also charged with misdemeanor DWI and reckless driving.


This all stems from a crash in Halfmoon last March that left a woman critically injured.

Cole is accused of driving while intoxicated when he lost control of his BMW and crashed into a tree on Sitterly Road.

A 49-year-old passenger in Cole's car, Deanna Shapiro, suffered a spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed from the shoulders down. She was hospitalized for five months and is now confined to a wheelchair.

During opening arguments on Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Katherine DeMartino told jurors that Cole was reckless, driving 78 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour zone and that he was intoxicated after drinking at restaurants before losing control and crashing into a tree.

Cole's attorney, Cheryl Coleman, told jurors that prosecutors can't prove intoxication, calling the crash beyond her client's control.

"You will have so many reasons to doubt the accusations made by the prosecutor and you will have reasonable doubts not only based on the evidence, but then you will have reasonable doubts on the lack of convincing evidence," Coleman told the jury.

"The facts will show that this crash was the direct result of the defendant's reckless conduct in conscious disregard for the safety of his passengers. A responsibility that they had placed in his hands and a responsibility that was solely his own," countered DeMartino.

The husband of the profoundly injured woman is expected to be among the first to testify when testimony begins at 9:30 on Wednesday morning.

If Cole is found guilty of the top count, he could be looking at up to seven years in state prison.


WNYT Staff

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