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Victims confront driver in court

By: SHAWN CHARNIGA

01/17/2006 - TROY-The sentencing of a Chatham man convicted of charges related to a May 1 crash that left his 20-year-old girlfriend and unborn child dead and a female passenger paralyzed was postponed last week pending a restitution hearing on power poles destroyed during the crash.

Sentencing was set for Friday, but after the dispute arose, Rensselaer County Judge Patrick J. McGrath delayed it, pending the hearing set for this morning, January 17.

National Grid claims it is owed $5,802 for a utility pole shattered during the crash, while Taconic Telephone Corp. of Chatham claims the pole was theirs and seeks $1,100 in restitution.

Prior to Judge McGrath's decision, Tony Berrios, father of the late Candice Berrios, told convicted driver David McKay, 20, he wished him a lifetime of nightmares.

Mr. McKay was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and assault last month. He was indicted on seven felony counts, but found not guilty of manslaughter.

"You killed her, David, the one person in your life who really loved you," Mr. Berrios said. "You are the cause of all this pain. Think of the pain you caused her while she was dying."

According to authorities, Mr. McKay, a part-time construction worker, was driving a Chevrolet TrailBlazer on Bunker Hill Road in Schodack while under the influence of marijuana.

He was traveling at more than 85 mph hour, according to the vehicle's internal computer, in violation of the posted 45 mph speed limit, before he swerved to avoid another vehicle, overcorrected and flipped the truck.

Ms. Berrios, a Nassau native and Chatham resident, was one of three passengers ejected from the SUV and one of eight Mr. McKay was driving to a concert in Altamont.

Another passenger, 17-year-old Brittany Bernard of New Lebanon, remains in a wheelchair after suffering a spinal cord injury.

Mr. McKay suffered head trauma that left him in critical and then serious condition for weeks prior to his arrest and then his release from the Rensselaer County Jail on $50,000 bail.

State Police charged tetrahydracannibinol, the active ingredient in marijuana, had entered his system less than 12 hours before the crash and a bag of the drug was found at the scene.

Passengers, including Mr. McKay's sister, Stephanie DeForest, who suffered two broken arms, testified two "joints" and a marijuana pipe circulated prior to the wreck.

According to prosecutor Amanda Palmer, the fatal crash was not the first time Mr. McKay broke the law while driving.

She said he was convicted in a June 2002 personal injury auto accident case as well as a property damage auto accident one year later, and was convicted of doing 88 mph in a 55 mph zone in February 2003 and 39 mph in a 30 mph zone in June 2003.

Less than a month before the crash, Mr. McKay was ticketed for traveling at 80 mph in a 55 mph zone but not convicted, Ms. Palmer said.

Defense attorney Philip Ackerman contested two of 10 orders of protection, claiming Mr. McKay made no effort to contact these persons during the months after the incident. Judge McGrath said he would issue the orders because the people they would protect had not requested otherwise.


Springfield Township Woman Suffers Cuts When SUV Nearly Flips On Top Of Her

April 13, 2006 - A 60-year-old Springfield Township woman escaped serious injury Wednesday after her sport utility vehicle rolled down her driveway and nearly flipped on top of her before continuing down a hill into a neighbor's garage, police said.

Judith Rae, of 966 Passer Road, was treated at St. Luke's Hospital-Fountain Hill and released on Wednesday night. Springfield Township Police Chief Scott Huber said the ''only visible injuries'' Rae suffered were scrapes and cuts to her feet and ankles, but was coherent when she was taken to the hospital.

The accident happened shortly after Rae arrived home around 2:15 p.m. She was grabbing something out of the driver's side back seat of the SUV when it suddenly started to move down the driveway, dragging her along, said neighbor Lynn Lentz, who was standing in her driveway.

The SUV spun at the end of the driveway and nearly flipped on its side on top of Rae, but was pushed back on its wheels after hitting a retaining wall, Huber said.

With Rae lying on the driveway, the SUV continued down a paved road that separates Rae's home from Lentz's and ran into a garage, stopping against the back bumper of a pickup truck, Huber said.

''The wall kept the car from going on top of her and crushing her,'' Huber said.

Lentz's home suffered damage to the garage and part of the home, Huber said. The SUV suffered minimal damage, he said.

 

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