Dakota "Cobra" Benedict (l), Amber Lynn Aliff

An Akwesasne teen was trying to outrun police last week when she crashed into a tree, killing one passenger and injuring another before dying in a Massena hospital.

One of the pursuing officers was involved in a fatal chase in Canada three years ago that killed a Massena couple and a cigarette-smuggling suspect.


Amber Lynn Aliff, 19, of Cook Road and Dakota "Cobra" Benedict, 22, of St. Regis, Quebec, died from injuries suffered in the Oct. 26 crash on North Road about 2:30 a.m.

Aliff was driving in the Village of St. Regis, Quebec, when officers from the Akwesasne Mohawk Police on the Canadian side of the border tried to stop her vehicle by activating their cruiser lights, according to a news release from the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police.

Aliff allegedly refused to stop for the police, and the cruiser began chasing her 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix south into the United States onto St. Regis Road.


Tribal Police were notified that the chase was coming across the border into its jurisdiction, and its dispatchers were kept informed of the Mohawk Police personnel's actions, the release states.

St. Regis Road turns into North Road at the intersection with State Route 37, and Aliff continued driving south, where she passed another vehicle, lost control of her sedan on a curve, went off the southeast side of the highway and crashed into a tree, police said.


Benedict, who was the back-seat passenger, was pronounced dead at the accident site by Franklin County Coroner Brian Langdon.

The front-seat passenger, Sidney Oakes, 19, of Snye, Quebec, suffered severe chest injuries and was first taken to Massena Memorial Hospital, then transferred to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington. He remains there, listed in stable condition.

Aliff was also taken to Massena Memorial, where she died from her injuries.

Autopsy results show Aliff died from blunt-force trauma to the chest, St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police Chief Andrew Thomas said.

Tribal Police were assisted at the accident by personnel from the Hogansburg-Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department, the Akwesasne Mohawk Ambulance, Seaway Valley Ambulance Service and the Bombay Fire and Rescue Squad.


Thomas said his agency has jurisdiction over the investigation and that a final report will be compiled and turned over to District Attorney Derek Champagne and the Akwesasne Mohawk Police.

"We're not going to rush it," Thomas said of the investigation into the Oct. 26 crash, adding that the department is still confirming details of the case, such as how fast each vehicle was traveling.

The chief said the driver of the uninvolved vehicle, who was not identified, was coming home from work when the crash occurred "and saw the whole thing," so he provided investigators with a lot of helpful information.


Thomas said a Canadian officer involved in the chase, Constable Michael Biron, was one of two Akwesasne Mohawk Police officers who had charges dismissed against him a year ago involving a deadly chase that occurred on Cornwall Island Nov. 14, 2008.

A Canadian judge determined that it could not be conclusively proven that Biron and Sgt. Kenneth Chaussi acted in a criminally negligent manner when they chased suspected smuggler Dany Gionet, 21, of Quebec, whose vehicle collided with one occupied by Edward and Eileen Kassian of Massena.

All three died in the crash.

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