Wednesday, August 13, 2014
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Off-duty NYPD cop one of two killed in head-on Thruway crash
WEST NYACK – An off-duty NYPD officer was one of two individuals killed in a head-on collision on the New York State Thruway I-87 on Tuesday.
According to New York State Police, the accident occurred shortly before 7 Tuesday morning when a pickup driven by off-duty officer Richard Christopher, 32, of Suffern, struck an SUV driven by James B. DeVito, 59 of Airmont, around Exit 15 in Suffern. Investigators have determined Christopher was southbound in the northbound lane for unknown reasons.
The accident was characterized as severe, with State Police Captain Richard Mazzone stating both vehicles were “demolished” by the impact. Police reported Christopher and DeVito were dead by the time first responders arrived at the scene.
Christopher, who was with the NYPD's 43rd Precinct, was not a member of the New York State Police, but Mazzone said the accident was no less tragic and disturbing.
“It's certainly upsetting and again, our condolences go out to the families of both of the deceased,” Mazzone stated.
The drivers were confirmed to be the sole occupants of the vehicles and no other cars or individuals are believed to have been involved.
Investigators are continuing to piece together the accident. They have not released the speed of the vehicles or why Christopher turned the wrong way onto I-87, but are currently speaking to confirmed eyewitnesses to the accident.
Autopsies and toxicology reports are currently underway. No information is available on the possible role of drugs or alcohol, but it was confirmed that nothing found in Christopher's car indicating he was driving under the influence.
Wrong way accidents have been an issue in the past, but New York State Thruway Authority Executive Director Thomas Madison assured travelers that the area near the accident was clearly marked and included four Doppler radar activated wrong way signs in the areas where most incidents have occurred
“We'll continue to work with our partners in the New York State Police Troop T to identify high accident and incident locations and see if additional signage is warranted,” Madison said.
Another recent wrong way incident occurred on January 7 when an elderly Spring Valley man with dementia was stopped by a state trooper in Tuxedo after traveling about eight miles north in the Thruway's southbound lane.