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Cell phone use linked to two serious vehicle accidents

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CRARYVILLE–Cell phone use is being blamed for a crash on Route 23 in which a minivan ran into the rear end of a stopped school bus, April 20 at 7:09 a.m.

A 2010 Freightliner school bus owned by the Taconic Hills Central School District was stopped in the westbound lane with its red lights flashing while children were waiting to cross from the south side of the highway.

Andrew Flynn, 25, of Hillsdale was driving a 1993 Dodge minivan headed west. He apparently did not see the stopped bus and crashed into its rear. Lieutenant James Andrews said Mr. Flynn was using a cell phone to send a text message at the time of the accident.

Mr. Flynn was trapped in the minivan for more than hour, according to reports from the scene. Craryville firefighters extricated him from the vehicle using the Jaws of Life. The Community Rescue Squad took Mr. Flynn to a landing zone on County Route 11, across from the school, where he was picked up by a Life Net helicopter and flown to the Albany Medical Center.

Seventeen students were onboard the bus and although neither they nor the driver, Carolyn Avrigg, 45, of Hillsdale complained of injuries at the scene, seven students later reported minor injuries to school officials.

The road was closed for about two hours.

Sheriff David Harrison Jr. said an investigation by Deputy William Dunspaugh is continuing and charges are possible.

Also on the scene were Undersheriff James Sweet, Captain David Bartlett, Lieutenant James Andrews and Deputy Wendy Guntert.

Greenport

A Greene County woman was killed in a crash on Route 9 the afternoon of April 14.

Livingston State Police say prior to the accident several witnesses reported seeing the driver Linda Hertica, 44 of Cairo, talking on her cell phone and speeding on Route 23 in Greenport.

Once on Route 9, witnesses saw her vehicle swerve off the east shoulder then back over to the west shoulder. On the west shoulder her vehicle struck a large stump, before becoming airborne and then spinning back into the road.

The Greenport Rescue Squad took Ms. Hertica to Columbia Memorial Hospital where she was pronounced dead of multiple trauma.

State Police were assisted on the accident scene by Greenport Police and the Greenport Rescue Squad.

Claverack

State Police conducted overnight surveillance April 19 at a Claverack business and saw two suspects in the act of stealing copper wire and tubing. Both subjects fled on foot but were apprehended by troopers a short distance away. So far, the investigation has resulted in one of the suspects–Ronald K. Oakley, 45, of Chatham–being charged with 10 felonies, 1 misdemeanor and 1 violation.

Police say Mr. Oakley, who is out of jail on parole, is responsible for committing numerous burglaries and larcenies in Columbia County since his release from prison September 2009.

Mr. Oakley allegedly targeted houses and buildings that appeared to be abandoned and stole primarily copper piping, tools and electronics.

Mr. Oakley was arraigned in Claverack Court on four counts of second degree burglary, five counts of third degree burglary, one count of third degree grand larceny, one count of fourth degree attempted grand larceny and one count of trespass. He was sent to the Columbia County jail.

Mr. Oakley’s parole officer was notified about the situation and a parole violation order is expected. State Police are continuing the investigation to determine the involvement of the other person apprehended as well as other associates. Additional arrests are anticipated.

To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@columbiapaper.com.

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