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Cemetery desecration charge laid in Madrid crash

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MADRID — A Potsdam man stands accused of cemetery desecration after he allegedly drove into a group of century-old gravestones Sunday morning.

Will T. Remigio, 21, failed to negotiate a curve on Route 345 shortly before 11 a.m. and drove off the road into Madrid Cemetery, state police at Massena said. In trying to drive back onto the road, Mr. Remigio stepped hard on the gas and drove straight into five grave markers, causing at least $5,000 worth of damage, troopers said.

“We don’t have an official estimate yet, but there were five headstones basically destroyed,” said Joseph A. Finnegan, president of the Madrid Cemetery Association Inc.

“There was foundation damage, some oil contamination that has to be cleaned up,” Mr. Finnegan added. “It’s a mess.”

Mr. Remigio, who allegedly was driving his boyfriend’s car without permission, left the scene without reporting the crash, according to state police. The vehicle owner’s name was not immediately available Monday.

Troopers arrested Mr. Remigio at 3:55 p.m. Sunday in the village of Potsdam and charged him with one count of cemetery desecration causing damage of more than $250, a class E felony. He also was charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, a misdemeanor, and was ticketed for imprudent speed and leaving the scene of a property damage accident.

Mr. Remigio was arraigned before Potsdam Town Justice Samuel R. Charleson and jailed in lieu of $1,000 bail or $2,000 bond.

Mr. Finnegan said the damaged gravestones were at least 100 years old, and association officials would review cemetery records to confirm who was buried in each of the plots, since several of the inscriptions were all but obliterated in Sunday’s crash. The group also will look to contact any descendants officials may be able to locate in connection with the graves.

“It’s unfortunate,” Mr. Finnegan said. “You would think that after you ended up in the cemetery, you would stop. He just kept going.”

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