Feedback: Police Say Driver Of Semi Was Alert When Accident Happened

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The tractor-trailer driver involved in the multi-vehicle pile-up that killed six people Thursday didn't appear to be impaired or distracted in any way at the time of the crash.

Police say the driver, 45 year old James Mills of Myerstown, Pennsylvania, was never officially in custody and has been released. No charges were filed.

It was his truck that plowed into a line of vehicles stopped because of paving work on Route 11 near Antwerp.

State police investigator Rick Hathaway says Mills didn't notice the construction signs or the cars that were stopped by a flag person until it was too late.

"He attempted to brake, but was unable to stop before he made contact with the other vehicles and started that chain reaction," Hathaway said.

Police say Mills was very cooperative and didn't show any signs of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he was interviewed by a drug-recognition expert.

He was tested for drugs and alcohol, but police say it will be some time before they have the results.

Hathaway said investigators also checked Mills' cell phone, but didn't find any texts or voice calls immediately before the accident.

Mills, who was not seriously injured, told investigators he was awake and alert and knew he was following a yellow stake-rack truck.

"But what he failed to notice was that traffic up ahead had stopped."

Hathaway noted that Mills was one of the people who pulled a state Department of Transportation employee from his vehicle before it burst into flames.

Police admit it could take weeks before they can sort through all the evidence and know for sure what caused the fiery crash.

Meanwhile, it's a very difficult day for people in St. Lawrence County, where five of the victims are from.

Resources were being made available Friday. Counselors were at St. Lawrence Central School, where two of the young victims attended.

Mourners can light candles at St. Mary's Church in Brushton.

Among those killed were a mother and her two daughters.

They are 42 year old Laurie Dana, 11 year old Lauryn Dana and 14 year old Caitlyn Dana.
 
Riding with them and also killed was the children's grandmother, 69 year old Janet Dana and close friend 14 year old Shannon Planty.

All five were killed instantly when their vehicle burst into flames after it was struck by the tractor-trailer.

Also killed was 59 year old Maryann Gregory of Dickinson Center in Franklin County, who was in a separate vehicle.

A Department of Transportation worker was critically injured. He suffered head and chest injuries and remains in critical condition at Upstate Medical Hospital in Syracuse.

See our earlier story.
 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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