Investigators blame speed, aggression for deadly stretch of NY Thruway

| 3/29/2006

As the old saying goes, “bad things always happen in threes.” Unfortunately for residents living near a five-mile stretch of the New York Thruway, the cliché has left an indelible mark on their community.

Since early February, there have been three fatal wrecks – two of which involved trucks – along the short length of toll road that connects Rockland and Orange County in Upstate New York. A total of nine people were killed in the crashes. Five were children. One was a trucker.

Ricky Peets, an investigator with the New York State Police, said inspectors have evaluated the corridor and determined that it is not an unsafe area.

“All three of these accidents were pretty much driver errors,” he said, calling the set of crashes in such a small area and period of time an “unusual coincidence.”

Peets said the inspectors did notice an excessive amount of speeding and aggressive driving in the area, and have upped enforcement on the section of roadway.

The first crash, which took place on Feb. 7, involved a truck and a four-wheeler. Peets told Land Line that Andrew McKiver, 63, apparently lost control of his 1996 Freightliner and veered across the median and into the Thruway’s northbound lanes, where it pushed a Range Rover – which was carrying Nabi Magomedov, his wife Natalia Shcherbinina, and the couple’s 3-year-old son Amir Magomedov – into a car hauler in the far-right lane.

All three passengers in the Range Rover were pronounced dead at the scene. McKiver was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he died. The driver of the car hauler, William Hastings, an OOIDA member from East Windsor, CT, was uninjured.

“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 told Land Line. “There was nothing – no pulse, no nothing.”

Unfortunately, the McKiver wreck was only the first in a series of three to take place in the five-mile corridor during the past month and a half. On March 15, 3-year-old Julia Shin was killed when her family’s SUV collided with a vehicle driven by Felix Colon. According to the Rockland Journal News, investigators believe Shin may have unbuckled herself from her car seat, which caused her to be thrown from the vehicle.

Then, two days later, Shuk Tse; her two children, Kevin, 16, and Douglas, 10; and another passenger, April Lao, were killed when Tse’s minivan was struck from behind by a tanker truck while she was attempting to change a flat tire.

“A woman experienced a flat tire, and she stopped in the right lane instead of pulling off onto the shoulder,” Peets said. “It was on a turn, and the tractor-trailer didn’t see her until he was right on top of her.”

Two other passengers in the vehicle – April’s mother, Karen, and her brother, Andy – were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, Peets said.

Only one criminal charge has been issued in any of three crashes. Colon, who was involved in the second wreck, was indicted on one charge of second-degree criminal possession of a forged document, for allegedly having a fake driver’s license. However, Peets told Land Line that he does not expect to see any charges placing blame in any of the three investigations.

– By Aaron Ladage, staff writer