Local News

January 6, 2013

After dark, use headlights and your head

RAY BROOK — I drove down the dark road at 10 mph, ready to slam on the brakes as soon as I saw a pedestrian in my headlights.

New York State Troop B Bureau of Criminal Investigation Investigator Michael Campbell sat next to me, preparing to measure the distance between my vehicle and the trooper posing as a person walking on the dead-end road in Ray Brook after dark.

And photographer/videographer Rob Fountain was alert in the back seat, capturing the events as they unfolded.


A quadruple fatal accident in November 2011, when two pedestrians and two teens in a car lost their lives, prompted the Press-Republican to ask State Police to conduct a pedestrian-safety experiment to use in a news story and in a video, both aimed to raise public awareness.

The four young people’s lives briefly converged just before 5 p.m. that day, when a car driven by Brandon Sorrell, 17, struck two international students, Chu “Allen” Xiong of China and Dat T. Ong of Vietnam. Sorrell’s passenger, Samantha Donah, 17, also died.

Police investigation revealed Xiong and Ong were wearing dark clothing and walking with their backs to traffic after dark on Peasleeville Road.

“They’ve got to be in reflective wear. They’ve got to be in bright colors,” said Christol Mastic, Sorrell’s mother, who has been promoting pedestrian safety through a foundation created in her son’s memory. 

“We lost four kids ... Don’t assume the car is going to stop.”


More recently, Charles Signaigo of Plattsburgh was killed when he was struck by a car as he rode his bike across North Bowl Way near Cumberland 12 Cinemas, shortly before 5 p.m. Dec. 4.

He did have working lights fixed on both the front and rear of his bicycle, and they were both on at the time of the accident, Campbell said. The cause of the accident is still under investigation, but the driver of the car, Judith A. Exford, 44, of Morrisonville, told police that by the time she saw Signaigo as she turned from Route 9 onto North Bowl Way, it was too late to stop.

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