Personnel File Shows No Signs of Alcohol Abuse

By Dave Greber

May 3, 2012 Updated May 3, 2012 at 6:47 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) A lawsuit against the state of New York is peppered with references that Department of Transportation supervisors turned the other way when Wendell Strum drank on the job.

But there is no mention of any alcohol-related problems contained in the 215 pages of his personnel file obtained by Action News earlier this year.

The 79-year-old Strum was driving a DOT vehicle drunk in October when he caused an accident that killed him and another woman, Nancy McQueeney, 49.

The lawsuit, filed in Albany on behalf of McQueeney's estate, says Strum was working at the time of the Oct. 7 crash, and that he often drank on the clock.

The lawsuit also claims the state is negligent because DOT supervisors were aware of Strum's use of alcohol on the job, and yet he was awarded the privilege of using a state-issued vehicle.

Although lengthy, the record released to Action News does not contain performance evaluations from his decades long career.

The DOT said providing such information would be an "unwarranted invasion of privacy."

However, it does include plenty of commendations for Strum's nearly 54-year career, and that he donated vacation time to a co-worker among receiving other awards.

And despite the DOT's claim the release of Strum's performance evaluations would constitute an invasion of privacy, the record does include a letter to DOT Administrative Officer Karen Archer about his medical condition.

Specifically, the letter, dated Aug. 29, 2011, acknowledged Strum's desire to retire after a stay in the hospital because of "a serious health condition."