Wife, other driver suspect faulty truck in deadly NY Thruway crash

| 2/14/2006

The circumstances surrounding a deadly wreck involving a truck and a four-wheeler on the New York Thruway last week are still under investigation, but the family of the trucker involved said they’re sure the truck itself was at fault.

On Feb. 7, Andrew McKiver, 63, apparently lost control of his 1996 Freightliner while heading south in the center lane of the thruway. Ricky Peets, an investigator with the New York State Police, told Land Line that McKiver’s truck veered left into the guardrail, which it slid along for approximately 100 yards until the rail ended.

The truck then crossed the median into the northbound lanes where it pushed a Range Rover – which was carrying Nabi Magomedov, his wife Natalia Shcherbinina, and the couple’s three-year-old son Amir Magomedov – into a car hauler in the far-right lane.

All three passengers in the four-wheeler were pronounced dead at the scene. McKiver was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he died. The driver of the car hauler, William Hastings of East Windsor, CT, was uninjured.

Hastings, an OOIDA member, told Land Line that he was in the center lane when he saw McKiver’s truck veer into the median. Hastings said he moved into the outside lane to avoid the truck in case it crossed into the northbound lanes

“When I had moved to the right lane, this little SUV went to go around me, and had gotten all the way up to my tractor,” he said. “As the Land Rover got up about even with my front bumper, where I was looking at the people in it, he came out of the median right at us and he struck the Land Rover into the front of my trailer, and then he caught the back of the trailer with his truck.”

Hastings said his trailer was totaled in the accident, and several of the eight cars he was hauling were damaged, but he received no injuries. After stopping his truck, he took blankets from his truck and tried to provide medical attention to the family and the other driver, who was not wearing his seat belt and was thrown through the truck’s windshield. Another four-wheeler who had stopped called 9-1-1.

“I’ve been driving for quite a few years, and I used to be a fireman … so the first thing I did was run back to the SUV to see if there was anything I could do, and there was nothing,” Hastings said. “There was nothing – no pulse, no nothing.”

Hastings, who owns his own car-hauling business, said he plans to continue trucking, but said he’s still very shaken from the crash.

“I just couldn’t deal with the three-year-old little boy,” he said Monday, Feb. 13. “We went walking back up the shoulder, me and the one trooper, and there was the CD holder for “Barney & Friends” music, and that just made it really hard.”

According to the investigator, an autopsy on McKiver revealed no medical problems that would indicate a cause for the crash. Toxicology reports have not come back yet, Peets said, but there were no initial signs of drugs or alcohol involved with the crash.

“We’ve pretty much determined that McKiver was not suffering any type of a medical condition that would’ve led to the accident,” Peets said.

McKiver’s wife, Judith, told Newsday that the day before her husband’s wreck, he called her to tell her there was something wrong with his truck. His son, Andrew Jr., said his father told him about a leaky brake or suspension-related air hose.

“He knew if it popped, he would have no control,” Andrew Jr. told Newsday.

Hastings’ first-hand account of the situation seems to lend some credibility to McKiver’s family’s claims. As his truck careened through the thruway’s median, Hastings said, he saw McKiver struggling to control his truck.

“When he was coming at me in the median, you could see that he was fighting with it,” Hastings said. “He was almost standing up with a death grip on the wheel.”

However, according to Newsday, mechanics with McKiver’s employer, Casing Inc., had inspected his truck the same day Andrew complained about the hissing air hose and found no mechanical problems.

Peets said an inspection on the Freightliner is still underway, the results of which will not be available for about a week.

“We don’t really know why, exactly, he crossed the lanes,” Peets said.

– By Aaron Ladage, staff writer