PLATTSBURGH — State Police investigator Allan Wright was fast asleep early on Oct. 8, 2006, when he was called about a fatal accident in Keeseville.

When he arrived at the Main Street crash around 4:40 a.m., the roadway was still blocked off as police worked to investigate the accident, which killed 25-year-old Keith Galarneau of Keeseville and left Shane Mlecsko, also from Keeseville, critically injured.

“The victim was still lying in the street, covered by a sheet,” testified the Ray Brook-based investigator during the second day of Robert Mitchell Jr.’s trial in connection with the deadly crash.

Wright began surveying the area to assist with documenting the accident site and later measured the location of evidence in the roadway.

“There were no tire marks at all. There were no signs of braking,” Wright noted this morning during his questioning before Judge Kevin Ryan in Clinton County Court.

“There was a faint drag mark to where the body was,” testified Wright.

He said Galarneau appeared to have been dragged about 55 feet up the steep incline before his body came to rest in the middle of the road.



DRIVER’S VIEW

Wright noted that several pieces of chipped paint from the front end of Mitchell’s white Cadillac dotted the intersection of Main and Ausable streets, where the Schuyler Falls man allegedly hit Galarneau and Mlecsko as they wrestled in the northbound lane.

As Wright continued his investigation, he observed that it was a “bright night” and that there did not appear to be anything that would have “blocked (Mitchell’s) view from seeing the pedestrians.

“There was nothing causing any view obstruction,” the Accident Reconstruction Unit coordinator told District Attorney Andrew Wylie and the 14-member jury.



‘NO EVASIVE ACTION’

After calculating the distance and the likely speed of travel at the posted 30-mph zone, Wright found that it would have taken Mitchell about nine seconds to get from the Front Street intersection to where the two men were hit, about 130 yards away.

At 20 mph, Wright testified, it would have taken about 14 seconds for the car to climb the steady incline.

“I didn’t see any evidence of any evasive action being taken (to avoid the accident).”

After the dented 1992 Cadillac was transported to the Ray Brook garage, Wright inspected the vehicle for evidence and to determine whether it was in proper working condition, which it seemed to be.

As he peered underneath the car, he noticed numerous places where hair, blood and tissue were imbedded in the undercarriage, indicating that Galarneau was hit by the center of the front end while he was low to the ground and dragged up the road as the car continued moving forward.

The dents and chipped paint on the side of the car indicated to Wright that Mlecsko was hit by the left side of the car, causing him to be thrown into the southbound lane after he was struck.

Mitchell’s attorney, Keith Bruno, later pointed out that Wright never interviewed his client during the reconstruction investigation and noted that the final report listed “driver inattentiveness” as a possible cause of the crash. Alcohol consumption was also listed as a possible factor in the final report.



OTHER TESTIMONY

During the afternoon proceeding, Clinton County Coroner David Donah testified about pronouncing Galarneau deceased at the accident site.

Then Trooper Joshua Jenkins described administering a breath test to Mitchell about an hour after the crash, when the driver allegedly had a blood alcohol content of .15.

Keeseville-based investigator Scott Hite will return to the stand Friday when the trial resumes at 9:30 a.m. to detail his involvement in the investigation, including securing numerous still photographs from nearby bank surveillance cameras.



E-mail Andrea VanValkenburg at:

avanvalkenburg@pressrepublican.com



THE CHARGES

Robert Mitchell Jr., 28, of Schuyler Falls is facing a five-count indictment in connection with the Oct. 8, 2006, crash that killed Keith Galarneau Jr., 25, and critically injured 33-year-old Shane Mlecsko.

The charges are: criminally negligent homicide, second-degree vehicular manslaughter, second-degree vehicular assault and two counts of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

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