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Tower Down - 09.15.22 (NY) "Updated 02.18.23"


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Driver with 4 prior convictions, no license was drunk when he killed man on Northway, troopers say


Justin P. Rodriguez, 41, charged with vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and traffic offenses in Thursday-night crash that killed tow truck operator


WILTON — A driver with a record of drunken driving and a permanently revoked license has been charged with vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and traffic offenses after his vehicle went off the Northway and struck and killed a tow truck operator who was preparing to pull a disabled truck off the shoulder, State Police said.


Alex W. Bleickhardt, 33, of Pottersville died at the scene of the crash near Exit 15.  Justin P. Rodriguez, 41, of Moreau was taken into custody after the 10:41 p.m. crash on the northbound side of the highway, troopers said. Rodriquez's car also hit Bleickhardt's tow truck and the disabled box truck he was preparing to tow.


Troopers said Rodriguez's car left one of the highway lanes and crashed on the shoulder. It appears the driver of the box truck had already left the scene when the crash occurred.


Troopers said Rodriguez had four prior driving while intoxicated convictions. The first two convictions took place in 2005 and 2015 in Washington County, troopers said. The third and fourth convictions occurred in 2017 in Saratoga County where Rodriguez's license was permanently revoked. Thursday night's crash appears to be the first one to cause serious injury to another person.


Rodriguez needed to be removed from his damaged vehicle. He was taken to Albany Medical Center for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. He was arraigned in town court and then taken to the Saratoga County jail on Friday. He was being held without bail.


The top charge Rodriguez faces, first-degree manslaughter, carries a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.


Rescuers closed the northbound side of the highway for several hours. Troopers left the scene after 5 a.m.


Bleickhardt had worked as a truck driver but went to work for TowAway LLC about five years ago, company President William Hafner said. The job meant he could be close to home.


Hafner said the company's 23 employees, who work out of locations in Saratoga Springs and Hudson Falls, are close.

Bleickhardt's death "hit everyone pretty hard here," he said.




“Alex was very well-natured," Hafner said. "Loved his dog; his dog was his life. ... It was a package deal when you hired him."


Hafner said the dog, a pit bull named Moose, became a mascot for the business. Someone brought him to the shop Friday.


“Customers loved him," Hafner said of Bleickhardt. "He was a little bit of a mountain man but really brought the people in. ... He could relate to anyone. He really wanted to help.”


Hafner reiterated the roadside safety mantra "slow down, move over": Drivers should be cautious around disabled vehicles.


But a driver with a record like Rodriguez, he noted, "shouldn’t have been on the road.”




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  • 4 months later...

UPDATED: Accused drunken driver charged with murder




His name is Justin Rodriguez and police say he’s a poster child for the dangers of driving while intoxicated. he already had four prior DWI convictions back when he was accused of crashing into and killing tow truck driver Alex Bleickhardt on the Northway on September 15.


He was initially charged with vehicular manslaughter, but an indictment handed up late Friday afternoon charges Rodriguez with murder. Prosecutors say his BAC was nearly three times the legal limit.


It’s a 16-count indictment that also accuses him of driving under the influence of drugs and weapon possession—police say he had a loaded gun in his truck at the time of the crash.


Alex Bleickhardt was just 33. his dog, Moose, was in the truck that night, and wasn’t hurt.



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