Keene residents mourn death of crash victim

KEENE – People in the town of Keene are mourning the loss of a resident who died in a car crash Tuesday.

Michael Curran, a 79-year-old who lived on Hurricane Road near the hamlet of Keene, had a heart attack stemming from coronary artery disease while he was driving north on state Route 73, according to an autopsy. He lost consciousness and his Toyota 4-Runner went off the road, hitting a utility pole and then crashing into a tree. He died from the impact of the crash, the autopsy determined.

Curran’s 65-year-old wife, Jeanne Warner, was seriously injured. She was taken to Elizabethtown Community Hospital and later transfered to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt. She suffered injuries to her arm and a broken leg, and expects to have surgery.

Charlotte Ball is a neighbor and close friend of Curran and Warner. She said what happened to the couple is an absolutely tragedy.

“She’s not only seriously injured, but she lost her husband, and she adored him,” Ball said.

Ball said the couple has a son and a daughter and one grandchild.

Milton Dudley, the minister at Keene Valley Congregational Church, said Curran was a member of the church council.

“I considered him a friend,” Dudley said. “The community is definitely in a state of shock and mourning.”

Dudley said there will be a service for Curran at the church, depending on when his family arrives in Keene.

Rob Hastings, who runs Rivermede Farm, was friends with Curran and a fellow member of the church. He said Curran would assist in oration at the church’s pulpit.

“You’d never forget his speaking voice, and he always had a smile,” Hastings said. “He just recently spoke, too.”

Curran was a retired bank executive for J.P. Morgan Chase who had previously traveled and lived throughout Europe, where he would loan money to corporations. Curran and Warner met through the Chase Alumni Association. He also owned a home in Manhattan and bought a home in Keene about five years ago.

Ball said Curran was one of the youngest vice presidents in Chase Manhattan’s history.

Helper after Irene

Curran was actively involved during the cleanup efforts after Tropical Storm Irene hit the area on Aug. 29, 2011, dedicating both his time and money to the cause.

“I think when you look back at Irene, Mike was very concerned about the community and generous,” Dudley said. “He really cared for this community. He got some significant donations to the community trust.”

Dave Mason was in charge of the flood relief fund to help with the cleanup efforts.

“I think Mike raised about a few thousand,” Mason said.

Good neighbor

“He integrated himself into the community very fast,” Hastings said. “He was a real positive force. I particularly remember his fun side.”

Ball said Curran was a cross-country skier, fisherman and snowshoer. He was also a member of the AuSable Club.

“He was always a good neighbor,” Ball said. “My husband had an operation three years ago, and Mike would come over and help us do shopping.”