Investigators found no mechanical issues with a car that crashed on Ledge Road, Alabama, in August, and split in two after striking a utility pole.
The accident claimed the the life of a 10-year-old Batavia boy.
The findings are part of a final accident report filed in October and obtained today by The Batavian through a Freedom of Information Law request.
The driver, the boy's father, Shawn P. Wolcott, told investigators the day of the accident that he had taken the car into mechanics several times because of issues with the steering and that prior to the accident he felt the car wobble and heard a pop or a knock.
Deputy Nathan Balduf, certified by the state for post-accident mechanical inspections, thoroughly examined Wolcott's 2004 Chrysler 300 and found no mechanical deficiencies that would have contributed to the accident.
Sgt. Bill Scott, a lead investigator for the Crash Management Team, concluded in his report that all the evidence pointed to the sedan drifting off the road either because Wolcott fell asleep, became unconscious or was otherwise distracted.
The Chrysler's front passenger fender struck a utility pole on Ledge Road. "After initial contact," according to the report, "the vehicle rotated counter-clockwise causing the vehicle to split in half."
Wolcott, who was uninjured in the crash, exited the front half of the vehicle as soon as it came to rest, according to witnesses, and pulled his son, Shawn Jr., from the back passenger seat.
One person reported seeing somebody performing CPR on the child.
Shawn Jr., was flown by Mercy Flight to Mothers and Childrens Hospital in Buffalo. He died five days later.
Wolcott told investigators he was driving to the reservation to buy a carton of cigarettes.
The accident was reported at 8:18 a.m.
Two people -- including his estranged wife and a person on probation with multiple arrests -- reported to authorities that Wolcott had been partying the night before and consumed drugs and alcohol. Wolcott denied the accusation to investigators.
Deputy Lonnie Nati, a certified drug-use recognition expert, was the first deputy on scene and did not detect the odor of alcohol on Wolcott and observed nothing to indicate Wolcott had consumed any drugs.
Investigators were also told that Wolcott was transporting two bags of marijuana in the trunk of his car, but a thorough search of the vehicle turned up no cannabis, though baggies were found that may have contained marijuana (based on odor) at one time.
Wolcott did have a prescription for hydrocodone for carpal tunnel pain in his wrists and he told investigators he had taken a pill the morning of the accident, but he'd been taking the prescription for years without incident.
According to the report, within the three years prior to the accident, Wolcott had taken the car in for service or repairs at multiple local garages, including Monroe Muffler, Midas, Dunn Tire, Castilone Chrysler, Chesley Automotive and Zirbel Automotive.
One person at an automotive shop told an investigator that Wolcott treated the car "like it's his only possession."
Wolcott told an investigator that a mechanic at Castilone, where the car was taken in April, said that the balance was missing from the rack and pinion and that the rack and pinion would need to be replaced.
The repair, he said, would cost $1,200, which he couldn't afford.
Repair receipts obtained by investigators from Castilone mention nothing about any problem with the rack and pinion, though notes indicate that Wolcott did complain about the handling and steering of the car. Wolcott reportedly told a mechanic that the "left front wheel feels like it's going to fall off."
The right front caliper, front rotors and pads were replaced during that visit.
In March, 2010, Wolcott had the front sway bar links replaced at Chesley's.
The struts were replaced by Monroe in late August, 2010. Monroe did alignments on the car in early August, 2010, late August, 2010 and September, 2010. Chesley's did a wheel balance in October of that year.