A beloved Baldwinsville teacher was killed April 24 in a freak accident that occurred on I-690, just a couple hundred feet from the Jones Road exit in Van Buren.
Jennifer Miles, 33, was traveling westbound when a wheel fell off a boat trailer, bounced over the median and struck the front top of her 2013 Kia Sportage. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Two rear passengers, both children, ages 1 and 4 and safely secured in car seats, were treated for minor injuries.
Nevada J. West III, 62, of Liverpool, was driving eastbound in a 1999 Ford van pulling a boat trailer with rear dually wheels, two on each side, when one came off the axle. The wheel crossed over both lanes, through the median and eventually into the westbound lane before landing on top of Miles' car. The wheel continued about 100 feet after it bounced off her roof before resting on the other side of the guardrail on the westbound side.
West did not realize what had taken place, said State Trooper Jack Keller. Another driver had noticed the malfunction, drove up alongside him, convinced him to stop and advised him that he lost a wheel. West then tried to locate the tire from where he stopped when he noticed a commotion in the westbound lane and realized the wheel had actually bounced over and struck another's car. He drove to the scene and stayed until the state police arrived. Another trooper whom Keller spoke with said West was visibly shaken.
"To say he was devastated would be an understatement," Keller said.
The trailer West was driving was uninspected and unregistered, both violations. Tickets are pending.
Miles worked in the Baldwinsville Central School District as a fourth grade teacher at McNamara Elementary School.
"When I talk about genuine people, Jen was the most genuine person you would ever want to meet," said Superintendent Jeanne Dangle. "She was happy about everything ... her husband, her children and she had what she believed was her dream job. She was the kindest person that I've ever met."
Because the accident occurred during spring break, Dangle said calls were made to staff and parents of the children who had Miles as their teacher. Other parents were notified via email.
The school has arranged to have counselors on-hand for support throughout the week.
Keller said the state's Collision Reconstruction Unit is investigating, which could take several weeks to complete.