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Investigation continues after Valatie house explodes


VALATIE—Columbia County 911 dispatched Valatie Fire Department and Sheriff’s deputies to 4101 Elm Street for a reported house explosion and fire, February 4 at 11:15 a.m.

Deputies found some type of explosion had occurred and the fire that was originally reported was already out. A male inside the residence at the time of the explosion, said he was not hurt. The residence was significantly structurally damaged, Sheriff David P. Bartlett said in a press release.

Currently, Sheriff’s Office Investigators, the Columbia County Fire Coordinators Office under the direction of Fire Coordinator John Howe, and investigators from the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control are conducting a joint investigation in to determine the cause of the explosion.

Further information will be released as it becomes available.

Also assisting at the scene were Valatie Rescue Squad, Niverville Fire Department, Valatie Water Department and the building inspector.

Investigating for the Sheriff’s Office were Sheriff Bartlett, Undersheriff John Davi, Captain John DeRocha, Sr., Investigators William Foster and Mark Dunspaugh, Sergeant Eli Fieser and Deputy Louis Bray.

Firefighters were back in service at 12:34 p.m.

Copake Falls

Sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene of an overturned 18-wheeled milk tanker on State Route 22 at the intersection of North Mountain Road, February 9 at 1:30 p.m.

Deputies found that a 1999 Mack tractor and milk tanker trailer, operated by Lynn L. Thompson, 51, of Roxbury, CT, was traveling west North Mountain Road approaching the intersection with state Route 22. The tractor trailer slid on the snow-covered roadway as it proceeded down the hill. The truck driver tried to turn right on State Route 22, but the rear trailer tires went into a culvert ditch, which caused the tractor trailer tanker to overturn blocking north and southbound lanes. The operator was not hurt.

The tractor trailer is registered to AJP Trucking, Inc., from Roxbury, CT, and the tanker trailer was filled with milk from Berkshire Valley Holsteins, a local dairy farm.

Some milk leaked out, but the trucking company sent another tanker to the scene to collect the milk still in the tanker. State Route 22 was closed until about 6 p.m.

The accident is still under investigation.

Hillsdale and Copake fire companies, State Department of Transportation and State Department of Environmental Conservation assisted at the scene.

Investigating for the Sheriff’s Office were Sergeant Donald Krapf, Deputies Thomas Merante, David Proper, Ian Boehme and K-9 Deputy Heath Benansky.


An investigation by the New York State Department of Labor and the State Police resulted in the arrest of Jason Pothul, 34, of Stockport for third degree grand larceny and offering a false instrument for filing, February 6.

The investigation revealed that during 2012 Mr. Pothul allegedly stole more than $3,000 from New York State when he fraudulently filed for unemployment.

He was arraigned in Claverack Court and is set to appear in Kinderhook Town Court February 17.

To contact Diane Valden email

Family visits 911 to say thanks

HUDSON—The Columbia County 911 Dispatch Center received a big visit from a little fan recently.

The Eschberger family of Claverack stopped by to visit and thank dispatchers who talked them through the birth of their son, Jace, born at home October 7, 2014, with a little help from Dad Frank and 911 Dispatcher Dana Petty.

The call came into 911 just before 10 p.m.

The caller, Mr. Eschberger, reported his wife, Samantha, was in labor. Dispatcher Petty, using computerized emergency medical dispatch software, asked some questions. Mr. Eschberger said he could see the baby’s head. The baby was coming and there was no waiting for first responders to arrive.

Hearing that the baby’s head was visible, Dispatcher Petty immediately provided delivery instructions including: “Remember, the baby will be slippery. Don’t drop it.” Minutes after the call was received, Mrs. Eschberger let out several loud screams and Mr. Eschberger said, “It’s coming out right now! I got it! I got it!” He confirmed to the dispatcher that the child was breathing.

Dispatcher Petty offered his congratulations on the boy’s arrival and continued providing instructions to dry and wrap the baby, “tie a string or shoelace tightly around the umbilical cord,” and to then put the baby in his mother’s arms.

Just then, Claverack Fire Chief Michael Cozzolino arrived on the scene with other first responders and an ambulance from Northern Dutchess Paramedics EMS right behind.

The entire phone call took a little more than four minutes.

In the weeks that followed, Mr. Petty kept in touch with the family, who came to the center to meet Dispatcher Petty and visit with the 911 staff.

“He was amazingly calm. He answered the questions and followed my instructions perfectly. Both he and Samantha were great,” Dispatcher Petty said.

County 911 handles 35 emergencies involving pregnancy and/or childbirth every year on average. The vast majority of those calls, however, result in a routine birth in the hospital.

“Unfortunately, we deal with a lot of tragedy in this line of work, but good calls like this make the job worthwhile,” Columbia County 911 Director Robert Lopez said in a press release.

“It’s a great feeling for a dispatcher when they can hang up the phone and know that they made a difference. In this case, the dispatcher helped bring a new life into the world. It doesn’t get much better than that,” Mr. Lopez added in the release.

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