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Cohoes Mayor Reveals 787 Pedestrian Fatality Investigation Findings

The investigation into a pedestrian fatality on the stretch of 787 that runs through Cohoes has concluded. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas spoke with Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse.

"For the city of Cohoes, that highway has not been a blessing by no means. It's really just been a glowing example of what bad engineering and not thinking things through will produce, and for us it's been tragedy after tragedy, accident after accident, and for me, enough is enough."

On Thursday, June 16, 2016, shortly before 8 p.m., Cohoes Police were summoned to the intersection of 787 and Bridge Avenue for a report of a motor vehicle and pedestrian accident.  Upon arrival, police found that a 16-year old female had been struck by a vehicle while crossing the street.  Brittany Knight of Bridge Avenue died of multiple blunt force traumas.

Mayor Morse says the car involved in the accident was operated by 48-year old William Lamb of Rensselaer.  Lamb has been charged with speeding.  "This car was traveling about 53 to 55 miles per hour in a 40 mile an hour zone, and the pedestrian walking in the crosswalk in a green light situation. So I think really what happened, is we have a turning lane where cars are parked and it appears all the traffic is stopped, but right on the side of those cars the two lanes heading north and south are still moving at a high rate of speed, and unfortunately the combination of that speed and walking out around those cars, thinking in fact nothing was coming, led to the tragedy."

Lamb is set to appear in court on Tuesday, September 27, 2016. Morse hopes that with changes to the crosswalks, nothing like this will happen again.   "We had changed out all of the buttons that you press to cross the walkway. Those buttons now have an audible and a flashing light to let you know they're activated once pushed. All of the traffic now completely stops. There's no more turning lane in red while the north and south lanes are green. There's no turn on reds coming off of city streets so in essence, all traffic's stopped. When the button is pushed and the cycle goes through its system, then the light comes on and tells you to cross the highway. Currently the state has applied to the federal government to change the title of 787 from a freeway to a boulevard, that's the first step in trying to achieve my goal of having a complete, honest true boulevard. And then it's a matter of me continuing to advocate and working to get the 15 million dollars that it's gonna cost to implement the plan."

New York State DOT officials say a reconfigured 787 would feature similar lighting, curbing, media and signage that motorists encounter along Route 9 in Saratoga Springs, which transitions as it heads into downtown.

The accident findings were part of a joint investigation with the Albany County District Attorney’s Office, New York State Police Accident Reconstruction Unit, the Cohoes Police Department and Cohoes Detective Unit.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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