Collision kills couple, injures daughter
RAY BROOK – Police say a Fort Covington man led them on a high-speed chase that ended in a collision, killing a husband and wife and leaving their daughter injured Thursday on state Route 86.
The collision occurred between a Honda Fit, carrying the family of three, and a Ford F-150 in which 20-year-old Trevor J. Sisto was allegedly fleeing police. State police said Sisto was driving the truck in an “extremely reckless manner” at a high rate of speed after a prior “hit-and-run” collision with a police vehicle in Lake Placid. Police say he had crossed into the opposite lane on Route 86 when he hit the Honda head-on, in front of Curtis Lumber and the state Adirondack Park Agency.
The family inside the Honda was trapped and had to be extricated by Saranac Lake and Lake Placid rescue personnel.
The family was from Potsdam. Driver James Barney, 42, was pronounced dead at the scene by Essex County Coroner Francis Whitelaw. The front-seat passenger was James Barney’s wife, Kim Barney, 38; she was transported to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake and later airlifted to Fletcher Allen Medical Center in Burlington, Vermont, where police said she died from her injuries.
Emily Colby, 11, was airlifted from the scene to Fletcher Allen, where she was listed in serious condition this morning – an improvement from Thursday night, when police said she was in critical condition. She was to have surgery for multiple injuries, according to state police. Emily is Kim Barney’s daughter and James Barney’s stepdaughter.
Sisto was not injured in the collision, according to Trooper Jennifer Fleishman, state police Troop B’s public information officer.
Lake Placid police said that before Sisto fled them, he was driving “into oncoming traffic and on occupied sidewalks with numerous pedestrians” while on Main Street and other village streets. Sgt. Chuck Dobson said there were three underage children in the truck when Sisto struck a village electric car and a traffic control officer on Main Street. The children were ages 11, 13 and 16. Sisto let them out of the car before the collision in Ray Brook.
Dobson said Sisto was on probation in Franklin County prior to this incident.
Lake Placid police charged Sisto with felony attempted assault in the first degree, three counts of felony endangering the welfare of a child, reckless driving and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident. He was sent to the Essex County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.
“The investigation is continuing, and more charges are pending,” Dobson said.
Fleishman told the Enterprise at 8 a.m. those other charges include unlawfully fleeing a police officer, reckless driving and driving while ability impaired by drugs. She didn’t specify what type of drug.
Police waited to release Sisto’s name until after he had been formally charged with a crime. That took place at his arraignment before a judge.
The collision happened on one of the busiest weeks of the year, with Sunday’s Ironman Lake Placid triathlon bringing roughly 20,000 people to the area in addition to the normal stream of summer tourists.
Authorities closed state Route 86 when the collision occurred, causing long lines of stopped traffic, so the state police Collision Reconstruction Unit could recreate the collision. State police reopened the roadway between 5:30 and 6 p.m. to one-way traffic, letting motorists drive through the Curtis Lumber parking lot as they continued to investigate on the road.
The Lake Placid Police Department reported that the incident began at 1:35 p.m. when a police officer tried to pull over the pickup on Main Street in Lake Placid. Sisto then backed into the officer’s electric GEM car, striking it and resulting in minor injuries to the officer. Village police began to pursue Sisto, resulting in a high-speed chase that ended with the collision in Ray Brook.
At 2:20 p.m., rescue workers at the scene in Ray Brook were giving CPR to one person near the car. Other rescue workers were holding up a blue tarp, shielding a victim from sight. Motorists gathered near the shoulder of the road, which was taped off by police.
Two ambulances were seen leaving the scene, and a state police helicopter was flown to the state police Troop B headquarters.
Donna Ottavinia, owner of the Ray Brook Sunoco, was on the scene after the crash happened.
“I saw debris all over the road and a lot of cop cars,” Ottavinia said. “They (cop cars) went flying by here and then ambulances.”
Drivers headed toward Lake Placid were being turned around by state police in front of their headquarters, and also in the village of Saranac Lake.
“I’ve been out there directing traffic and telling everybody how to get to (Interstate) 87 or Lake Placid,” Ottavinia said. “Most people are trying to head to Lake Placid right now.”
The case remains under investigation by state police, Lake Placid police and Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague.
Readers mourned the deaths and offered prayers for the orphaned girl on the Enterprise Facebook page.
“This rips me apart,” Adam Mayville wrote. “I am not even a parent and the person who does the damage doesn’t even get hurt badly once again.”
“So so sad,” wrote Nikki Christy. “All for no reason…let him get the max punishment. It’s always the bad guys who come out w/ nothing wrong while the innocent suffer!!
“Just not fair!!!” Robin VanWeelden wrote.