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Cemetery-desecration charge levied in Madrid crash

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MADRID — A Potsdam man stands accused of cemetery desecration after he allegedly drove headlong 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 said. When he tried 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 Madrid Cemetery Association President Joseph A. Finnegan, who also is town supervisor.

“There was foundation damage, some oil contamination that has to be cleaned up,” Mr. Finnegan said. “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.

Police 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 with 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 that the damaged gravestones were at least 100 years old, and that 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 attempt 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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