Sleeping aid in Kerry Kennedy's blood after crash: report

NEW YORK Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:34pm EDT

Kerry Kennedy speaks to the media outside the North Castle Justice Court after pleading not guilty to drug-impaired driving charge after her arraignment in Armonk, New York July 17, 2012. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin

Kerry Kennedy speaks to the media outside the North Castle Justice Court after pleading not guilty to drug-impaired driving charge after her arraignment in Armonk, New York July 17, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Michelle McLoughlin

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Kerry Kennedy, the ex-wife of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the daughter of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, had a common sleeping pill in her system when she collided with a tractor-trailer, according to a toxicology report filed on Wednesday.

Kennedy, 52, was found slumped in her white Lexus on the morning of July 13 in North Castle, north of New York City. Witnesses said she had been driving erratically, swerved into the tractor trailer on Interstate 84 and left the scene.

According to a police report, she was swaying, had trouble speaking and told an officer she may have accidentally taken a sleeping pill earlier that morning.

At a court appearance on July 17, however, she said tests at a local hospital had found no trace of drugs and that her doctor believed she had suffered a seizure.

At the court appearance, she pleaded not guilty to a charge of driving while impaired.

A toxicology report, filed on Wednesday in North Castle Justice Court, said zolpidem, which is sold under the brand name Ambien, was found in a sample of Kennedy's blood taken when she was arrested. The report said no alcohol was found.

Zolpidem is a prescription medication used to treat insomnia that works by slowing activity in the brain to allow sleep.

State police charged Rocco Scuiletti, the 47-year-old driver of the tractor trailer, with leaving the scene of the accident.

John Pappalardo Jr., a lawyer for Kennedy, did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Kennedy, who is known for her work as a human rights activist, is due back in court on August 14.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Anthony Boadle)

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