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Van Etten Man Arrested For Reckless Driving Possibly Linked To Two Deaths

Published March 3, 2014 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney
Arrest for reckless driving

New York State Police recently arrested a Van Etten man whose reckless driving may have caused a two-car, head-on collision on State Route 34/96 that resulted in the death of two people on New Year’s Eve.

Reckless driving— and the injuries and deaths related to it— has become a serious issue across the nation. That is especially true in New York City and has prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to propose a solution that would eliminate fatalities due to car accidents over the next 10 years.

Two-Car Head-on Collision Takes Lives of 67-Year-Old & 20-Year-Old

Nineteen-year-old James Crosby from Van Etten was recently arrested in connection with a fatal New Year’s Eve reckless driving accident that resulted in a two-car head-on collision and took the lives of a 67-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man. According to WBNG Action News 12, Crosby was arrested in Ithaca on February 24th, arraigned in Tompkins County Court and released under the Supervision of probation. He was scheduled to appear in Tompkins County Court on Feb. 27, 2014.

New York State Police in Ithaca are still investigating the New Year’s Eve accident, which occurred on State Route 34/96 at approximately 5 p.m. Crosby was allegedly traveling northbound in his 1998 Chevrolet Monte Carlo when he lost control and entered the southbound lane, striking a 2001 Jeep Cherokee operated by Samantha Aarnio, 31, of Spencer.

Crosby was taken to Robert Parker Hospital and suffered a leg injury. Unfortunately, his passenger, 20-year-old Derek Nichols, was pronounced dead at the scene. Aarnio’s passenger, 67-year-old Kathy Lattimore, was taken to Cortland Regional Medical Center but was pronounced dead on arrival. Stephanie Aarnio and her husband Eugene were also taken to Robert Parker Hospital, having suffered numerous injuries.

Although the investigation into the collision is continuing, Crosby has been charged with two counts of manslaughter, and one count each of assault in the second degree, assault in the third degree, reckless driving and reckless endangerment in the second degree.

Families who lose a loved one as the result of a reckless driver may have a legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit to hold the driver accountable. A wrongful death lawsuit is separate from any criminal prosecution.

Sadly, an increasing number of reckless driving accidents are being reported across the nation. Some are due to speeding, some due to drunk driving and many others due to distracted driving. The issue has caused New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to propose a program that addresses the issue in New York City.

Vision Zero: Seeking To Eliminate Pedestrian & Bicycle Traffic Fatalities

Mayor de Blasio’s program, Vision Zero, seeks to eliminate all pedestrian and bicycle deaths caused by motorists in New York City over the next 10 years by increasing the number of traffic cops, creating a specially trained collision investigation team and installing speed cameras and forming a high-powered Vision Zero panel.

Although the law seeks to end pedestrian and bicycle traffic fatalities, reckless driving is the onus behind it. A New York Post article recently reported that at least 21 taxi drivers have killed or injured pedestrians or bicyclists in New York City over the past five years. Only one was charged criminally; the others received traffic violations and paid a fine.

The Post article was the basis of a recent New York Times article written by Dr. Barron H. Lerner. He described the horrific story of how his nine-year-old nephew was killed by a taxi cab that drove directly into the child and his 6’ 3” father as they were crossing the street with a lit “walk” sign.

Police administered a Breathalyzer test to the driver, but it came back negative. Whether or not criminal charges are filed remains to be seen. However, Dr. Lerner, an authority on drunk driving, says that increased laws on drunk driving have saved lives over the past 20 years. Yet, the laws that do exist on reckless driving simply aren’t making a difference.

If you’ve been the victim of a reckless or distracted driver, contact an experienced New York car accident lawyer to analyze your situation, discuss your legal options and determine whether you might be entitled to compensation.

  • A prior version of this post incorrectly stated that Kathy Lattimore was a passenger in Crosby’s vehicle. She was a passenger in the vehicle driven by Samantha Aarnio. We regret the error.

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