February 16, 2013

1 dead in 3-car crash in Beekmantown


---- — BEEKMANTOWN — Two cars struck a pickup truck in a multi-casualty accident that killed John L. Phaneuf on Friday afternoon.

The Clinton County Sheriff’s Department said the Plattsburgh man, 70, who was headed west on Jersey Swamp Road, failed to stop his 2002 Ford F-150 pickup at the Military Turnpike intersection just after 1:30 p.m. 

As the red pickup passed the stop sign and entered the Turnpike, it was hit by a white 2012 Ford Fusion driven by Wai Kit Au, 48, of Kanata, Ontario, which was headed north on the Turnpike.

The truck was then struck by a white 2013 Nissan Altima driven south on the Turnpike by Jedediah Hoppe, 35, of Malone.


John Lawliss, 79, of Peru was driving northward when he saw three mangled vehicles.

“There was debris all over the road. It had just happened,” he said in a phone interview Friday night. “I pulled off the road, and I immediately called 911 because I could see it was a bad accident.”

Another man had stopped as well, Lawliss said.

“Apparently, he was some type of paramedic,” he said.

Together, they helped ease Phaneuf out of the truck, and Lawliss said the other man began performing cardiopulmonary respiration on him.

Lawliss also saw a woman sitting in the Altima.

“You could tell she was injured, and she was crying.”


Emergency medical technicians and law enforcement officials began arriving shortly afterwards, said Lawliss, who was a State Police trooper for 33 years.

“I’ve seen a lot of accidents. This was as bad as you want to see.”

Clinton County Coroner David Donah pronounced Phaneuf dead there.

The Beekmantown Fire Department, Morrisonville EMS and CVPH EMTs responded to the call, taking four others by ambulance to CVPH Medical Center, including a passenger in Phaneuf’s pickup, Richard Wray of Chazy; Hoppe and his passenger, Lisa Yando, 41, also of Malone; and Au.

The Sheriff’s Department said they were still under evaluation at 8:30 p.m. Friday night; a patient-care coordinator was not available by press time to give an update on their status.

The State Police Collision Reconstruction Unit and Clinton County District Attorneys Office are assisting the Sheriff’s Department in the investigation, which is ongoing, the Sheriff’s Department said.


In the midst of that response, two vehicles collided near 8780 Route 22 in West Chazy, but no one was taken to the hospital by ambulance, according to Clinton County dispatch.

Though the roads were dry and weather clear, dispatchers sent rescue crews to two other crashes on Friday afternoon.

Two ambulances brought injured motorists to CVPH after a two-car accident involving entrapment at about 4 p.m. near 312 Conners Road in Schuyler Falls; Morrisonville Volunteer Fire Department responded to that call.

And at 4:14, City of Plattsburgh Fire Department was called to a two-car crash at the intersection of Montcalm and Cornelia streets; two people were taken to CVPH from that collision as well.

No further details were released Friday night on either accident by, respectively, State Police and Plattsburgh City Police Department.

— News Editor Suzanne Moore contributed to this report.