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Female combat soldier statue toppled by drunk driver, police say

State police say a drunk driver smashed a statue of a female combat soldier in Sprague, Pa. on Monday, a heartbreaking incident for veterans who cherished one of the few memorials that singled out their service.

“This statue went a long way to show female vets that they mattered, so we’re just heartbroken,” Sen. Cathy Osten, commander of the local American Legion Post, said Tuesday.

The crash happened at about 10 p.m. when a driver failed to stop at Main Street and Route 207 in the Baltic section of the Eastern Connecticut town, state police said. The vehicle struck the curb, went over a stone wall and struck the statue of the soldier kneeling beside another sculpture of a rifle and boots, the iconic symbol of a dead warrior.

The driver, whose name was not immediately available, failed sobriety tests and was taken into custody, police said.

Osten, who served in the U.S. Army from 1973-78, said repairs will begin as soon as possible. The town owns the memorial park where the statue was dedicated on Veterans Day last year, so insurance coverage should be available, initially from the town and later from the driver, Osten said.

The American Legion post had raised $50,000 for the statue over about five years, hosting spaghetti dinners and other events. The long-term plan was to install statues of both female and male veterans, but post members decided to get the female soldier in first because they had not heard of another memorial in the state to military women, Osten said.

“A lot of veterans came to the (2019 Veterans Day) event in tears because they said they never had a statue that looked like them,” she said.


(c) 2020 The Hartford Courant

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