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Singer-songwriter Harry Chapin's driver's license was revoked at the...

By
HENRY G. LOGEMAN

MINEOLA, N.Y. -- Singer-songwriter Harry Chapin's driver's license was revoked at the time he was killed in a collision on the Long Island Expressway in Jericho, state Motor Vehicle Department records disclosed Friday.

The revocation came on March 1 as a result of three speeding convictions that Chapin, 38, amassed in a previous 18-month period.

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The department records revealed that Chapin had been convicted at least 15 times since 1973 for speeding, improper passing, failure to signal and driving without a license, operating with a suspended license and driving an unregistered vehicle.

There was an earlier revocation of his operator's permit in 1976, and his license was suspended four times between 1975 and 1980.

Chapin was given traffic summonses in various boroughs of New York City and in Nassau, Suffolk and Warren counties.

Officials said Chapin's death Thursday may have been due to a malfunction of his 1975 Volkswagen Rabbit.

Homicide detectives said a witness reported Chapin's car was moving at no more than 15 mph in the left lane of the expressway and the emergency lights were flashing.

Police said Chapin may have been trying to get across the other two westbound lanes to the shoulder at the right of the expressway.

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He pulled into the center lane, and the car was rammed in the rear by a flatbed tractor trailer, whose driver, Robert Eggleton of Plainfield, N.J., was unable to stop. Both car and truck burst into flames.

Dr. Minoru Araki, Nassau County's deputy chief medical examiner, said Chapin's aorta was lacerated by the tremendous impact and he died of massive hemmorhaging into his chest cavity.

'There were very few burns, and he most certainly did not die from the fire,' Araki said.

Araki said a report that Chapin may have suffered a heart attack at the wheel was erroneous.

'He suffered a cardiac arrest as the result of his severe injuries, but the autopsy showed that his heart was in very good condition,' Araki said.

Chapin was carrying no personal papers, and it was more than six hours before his body was identified by his tour manager and personal pilot, Richard Imperato.

Guy Thomas, a spokesman for Kragen and Co., Chapin's management firm, said there will be a private funeral attended only by his family and closest friends. He said burial arrangements have not been completed.

An 'all-star benefit memorial service' for Chapin is planned for next month in New York City, Thomas said.

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Chapin was noted for his philanthrophy. It was said that nearly half the concerts he appeared in annually were performed for various charities.

Late Friday, Bob Hinkle, a vice-president with Kragen and Co., announced the formation of a foundation to further Chapin's commitment to 'supporting the arts and alleviating world hunger.'

Hinkle said the Huntington-based foundation, to be called the Harry Chapin Memorial Foundation, was set up with the permission of the Chapin's wife, Sandy.

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