Community shocked by latest in series of car - pedestrian accidents in Jefferson County

WWNY Community shocked by latest in series of car - pedestrian accidents in Jefferson County

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Tuesday’s fatal accident in Theresa that killed a Verizon worker has left neighbors and the community shocked.

“I had PTSD. I had a flashback last night of the poor man dying in the road. There’s nothing I can do about it. That’s a traumatic injury that’s going to be on my mind for the rest of my life,” said Mike Goodnough.

Goodnough works on cars in his garage on Main Street every day. On Tuesday, the front of his driveway became the scene of a fatal accident.

“I heard a thump and my wife came down the stairs and she said, ‘Something’s going on out there.’ So I looked outside and said, ‘Oh, my God, call 911,’” he said.

State police said 38 year old Verizon worker Alec Williamson was directing traffic through a work zone when he was hit by a pickup truck.

Troopers said the driver, 84 year old John Vantassel of Philadelphia didn’t see Williamson.

Williamson was taken to River Hospital where he died from his injuries. The community is still coming to terms with what happened.

A couple minutes away at Miss Laura’s Diner, things felt different.

“Very quiet. Very recluse. Everyone, they’re not talking about it. They’re very quiet. I just found out who the gentlemen was (that hit him) and you know, everybody knows everybody around here,” said Susan Peck of Theresa.

Owner Laura Davis says she doesn’t know Vantassel, the driver, personally, but he comes to the diner once in a while.

“When something happens like this, it really hurts everybody. It’s a loss, you know, and we feel it too,” she said.

Troopers said it doesn’t appear that speed was a factor and drugs and alcohol are not factors in the accident, which is still under investigation.

The Theresa incident is the fourth car - pedestrian accident in Jefferson County in less than 3 weeks.

In Brownville on October 9, officials said 78 year old Paul Sanford of Brownville was crossing State Route 12E diagonally when he was struck by a pickup driven by 76 year old Raymond Coates, who was making a turn onto the highway from Bridge Street.

Sanford survived, but people died in the other 2 incidents.

On October 2, police said 83 year old George Sipos of Chaumont walked into the road on State Route 12E near Dollar General and 32 year old Joseph Haas, also of Chaumont, was unable to avoid hitting him with his vehicle.

The impact of the vehicle threw Sipos into the westbound lane where another traveling vehicle didn’t see him and also struck him.

Sipos was pronounced dead at the scene.

On September 25 in Watertown, a woman and an Adirondack Trailways bus collided in front of the bus terminal on State Street.

Police said 35 year old Stephanie Jenkins of Olive Street in Watertown was dead when emergency personnel arrived on the scene.

All of these incidents happened in different ways at different times of the day, but all were likely preventable.

Police are asking you to be extra careful when getting behind the wheel.

“Avoid playing with the radio, avoid playing with your phone, talking on your phone or texting. Other electronic devices can be distracting as well. Some passengers can be distracting. Keep an eye on the road. Always expect someone to walk out in front of you I suppose,” said Sergeant George Cummings, Watertown Police Department.

Cummings added that it’s important for pedestrians to be extra careful at night. People should wear reflective clothing or carry a flashlight.

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