Jan 22, 2012 Amanda Seef Uncategorized
Adam Yeates doesn’t remember driving down Pompey Center Road last June. He can still see a mini-van in the opposite lane, but the 18-year-old doesn’t remember what it sounded like; the sounds of his car colliding with a stopped farm tractor. He doesn’t remember how it felt when emergency crews freed him, or anything about the critical ambulance trip to Upstate University Hospital.
All Yeates knows about the crash is what police reports have told him.
“I don’t know what speed I was going, but by the looks of the skid marks it was fairly fast,” Yeates said. He was driving from his Pompey Center Road home on a sunny, Friday morning after a doctor’s appointment when he couldn’t stop in time. His car slammed into the back of that stopped farm tractor, crumbling his car and crippling his body from moving. He can’t remember, but he thinks he lost consciousness as he tried to remove himself from the car. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition, and spent five weeks there recovering from broken bones and a brain injury.
Yeates’ crash is one of 34 that have happened on Pompey Center Road in three years; three of which have been fatal.
A Manlius woman was killed on the road in July 2009. Police believe Leslie Young, 45, was speeding on the road when she hit a landscape rock and her car rolled over, hitting a utility pole.
In September 2010, a 22-year-old Chittenango man was killed when his car went off the road. Police think Erich Sorrentino was swerving to miss an animal in the woods when he went off the road, hitting trees and a utility pole across from Graham’s home.
Down the road, about a mile, friends and family have been gathering to remember Marissa Ahlsen, 23, of Manlius, who was killed last week when her car went off the road, hit a utility pole, rolled over and landed in the trees. Police have not yet released a cause of that accident.
After the latest crash, neighbors on the road that bridges Manlius and Pompey hope to see something change.
“It’s no fault to law enforcement people, you can’t be everywhere in the county,” said Randy Graham. Graham and his wife have lived on Pompey Center Road for decades. “People just fly up and down this road. Where we live it’s 50 miles per hour, but north of us, it’s 40. Ray Charles can see they’re going a lot faster than that.”
The Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office is the primary responder for calls south of Broadfield Road, entering into the town of Pompey. The town of Manlius begins just south, but running north, of the intersection with Broadfield Road. Manlius Police have responded to 11 accidents on the road; the Sheriff’s Office, 23.
“I drove up that road everyday, I would hang with friends and we would go on afternoon drives,
Yeates said. “I used to listen to music and drive. It seems that wasn’t the best idea because it’s definitely not a safe road.”
Yeates hasn’t driven since the accident, but he takes caution when riding with friends or family along the county route.
“It doesn’t really feel good to be on that road,” he said. “I know what could happen. I know what did happen.”
Two housing developments have increased the traffic in the area, Graham said. Those developments have also created a hazard on the road for wildlife, as they were built in a natural habitat for deer.
“The developments generate more people and more traffic,” Graham said. “You know it’s going to catch up with you, the law of averages.”
Following his accident, Yeates urges drivers of the road to pay more attention to what’s going on, and to take greater care when driving through the area.
“I think you just feel so safe on that road because you can see everything in front of you. You think you can keep going and everything can be OK, but the problem is if something pops out or there’s a car stopped, anything can really happen,” Yeates said. “There isn’t much monitoring and there isn’t much in front of you. It seems like it’s completely safe, but it’s not.”
Yeates, who started his first week at SUNY Albany this week, is recovering well. The brain injury has not impaired him, he said.
“I have more of an appreciation for life now that I realize how quickly it can go and how easy it can go,” Yeates said. “It doesn’t even have to be something that you know can happen, it can just jump out at you.”