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Hilltowns Archives The Altamont Enterprise, October 9, 2008
BKW sophomore dies in car accident
By Zach Simeone
KNOX A car accident on Oct. 1 resulted in Ryan Slingerland’s death, leaving his two friends injured. A lull has washed over the Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School, where Slingerland was a sophomore, but things are moving slowly back to normal.
At about 5 p.m. on Oct. 1, Edmund A. Moore, 19, was driving south on Street Road in Knox in a Hyundai sedan with Ashlee Overbaugh, 18, in the passenger seat, and Ryan S. Slingerland, 16, in the back, according to a release from the New York State Police.
Not long after they got in the car, it went off the road and struck a tree, police said. Helderberg Ambulance, the Knox Fire Department, and the Albany County Sheriff’s Department assisted state police at the scene, extricating the teens from the car. Moore and Overbaugh were taken to Albany Medical Center, where they were treated for minor injuries.
Slingerland was pronounced dead at the scene, police said, as the result of massive trauma to the head. The police attribute the accident and death to excessive speed, and failure to wear a seatbelt.
“Once they hit 16, it’s no longer illegal for them to not wear a seatbelt,” said Maureen Tuffey, State Police spokeswoman.
“The two in the front took the brunt of the crash, but they were wearing seatbelts. Ryan wasn’t wearing a seat belt,” she said. “We see this time and time again as soon as kids turn 16, and stop wearing seat belts, we’re seeing a much higher fatality rate.”
The investigation of the accident, Tuffey said, is still ongoing.
“There’s a few more people to be interviewed, but early indications are still believed to be true that speed was the cause,” she said.
Tuffey is unsure of the results from the toxicology report. “They take toxicology from the driver, but if there was anything there, it would have come back by now.”
On Thursday, the school district’s crisis team was in place to offer counseling to grief-stricken students.
“When there’s a situation such as a student death,” Superintendent Steven Schrade said, “administrators and counselors and other support personnel meet to plan how to deal with student reaction.” These administrators and counselors compose the district’s crisis team.
They met before students arrived at school on Thursday morning, and prepared a statement on the accident that was read to the students that morning.
“The library was shut down for the day and used as a counseling center,” said Schrade. “Counselors were available for students who were having a difficult time dealing with the death; if students were having difficulty staying focused, they were allowed to go home, with parental permission.”
Several students showed up for counseling, Schrade said, and a number of staff members were noticeably upset the day after the accident.
“Students were quite somber and subdued,” Schrade said on Tuesday. “Since the funeral service was yesterday, the school is returning to relatively normal.”