Somerset police say driver in crash got high on heroin with 6-year-old in backseat

By Bianca Buono


Disturbing new details are coming out about a serious crash in Somerset Friday night. Police say the driver, 30-year-old Matthew Leonardo, ran a red light because he was high on heroin and his 6-year-old daughter was in the back seat.

Police say Leonardo admitted to taking a mix of heroin and cocaine at 4 p.m. and the crash happened at 7 p.m.

"He did admit to taking a speedball, which is a mix of heroin and cocaine. It appears he may have nodded off,” said Somerset Police Chief George McNeil.

Leonardo nodded off while he was driving on Route 6 near the Lee’s River Avenue intersection. That’s when he ran a red light and plowed into the side of a tractor-trailer. His car was pinned underneath and it was dragged at least 500 feet before the truck driver realized what happened.

"I was standing right, looking right at the vehicle. I just can’t believe anybody would be able to survive that crash because the vehicle was crushed,” McNeil said.

Leonardo was rushed to Rhode Island Hospital while his daughter was taken to Hasbro Children’s Hospital. The young girl has been released to the Department of Children and Families while her father faces a slew of charges.

"Most serious being operating under the influence of drugs, causing serious bodily injury, and reckless endangerment of a child,” McNeil said.

McNeil says this crash speaks to just how serious the drug problem in Southern New England has become.

"Are you hoping this is a wake-up call?" asked a reporter.

"Who knows. Who knows. With the opioids there’s not much that seems to wake people up,” said McNeil.

At last check, Leonardo is still recovering at Rhode Island Hospital. He’ll be arraigned on all of those charges once he’s released.

© WLNE-TV 2016