Late Friday night, on a rain-slicked road, New York State Trooper Amanda Anna was driving a state-issued 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe on Oswego County Route 37 in the town of Hastings. Anna, of Liverpool, mother to 4-year-old Ethan, a former basketball star, planning her wedding to a fellow trooper, expected to finish her shift, go home to her fiancé and pick up Ethan in the morning.
Instead, something terrible happened, and Amanda Anna never came home.
Investigators suspect that Anna may have been giving chase to a speeder when she lost control of the Tahoe on a curve. The vehicle struck a guardrail and became airborne over a small inlet of water, flipping several times. Anna suffered severe head injuries in the crash. Though she held on through the night, she was unable to overcome the trauma. She died at 5:25 a.m. Saturday morning.
Anna is the third New York State Trooper to die in a Chevrolet Tahoe while chasing a speeder on a wet road. In 2006, West Genesee High School graduate Craig Todeschini was chasing a speeding motorcyclist when he rounded a curve, lost control and crashed into a tree. In 2007, Long Island Trooper Jose Rosado died when he lost control of his Tahoe on black ice. The Todeschini case prompted an arrest, a new law and changes to the way state police train troopers to drive in Tahoes on curves, as well as changes to the design of the state-issued Tahoes. It also caused the head of the New York State Police Benevolent Association to complain to the governor that Tahoes are ill-suited for high-speed pursuits.
Clearly, it’s not enough. In the midst of a high-speed chase, troopers are likely not following the safety guidelines under which they’ve been trained. Though the state implemented a regimented training program after Todeschini’s death, it only goes so far; other factors, like weather, traffic volume and speed play a role. The vehicles are top-heavy and prone to rollover crashes, particularly at high speeds and in bad weather, like the three crashes described above.
Chevy Tahoes are fine vehicles. They can be used in other police actions. But they’re not suited for speed patrols, as indicated by the deaths of troopers Todeschini, Rosado and Anna.
So New York State Police, please, stop sending patrols out in these vehicles. Do it for Amanda Anna.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.