Driver shows no remorse
LAKE PLACID – State police Maj. Richard C. Smith said at a press conference Friday that the driver involved in Thursday’s fatal collision did not show signs of remorse, and he made comments that he should have “killed some cops.”
The press conference was held at state police Troop B headquarters, only yards away from the scene of the fatal accident that killed two people. Lake Placid Police Department Chief Bill Moore was also there to answer questions.
Smith and Moore explained the entire timeline of the pursuit to capture 20-year-old Trevor J. Sisto, of Fort Covington, who took his mother’s F-150 pickup truck without her permission. Sisto was later involved in a hit-and-run incident in Saranac Lake at 10 a.m. At 1:21 p.m., state police received a report of a Ford F-150 headed toward Lake Placid while driving erratically.
Moore said the driver “wreaked havoc” while in Lake Placid. The Ford F-150 was first seen driving past the Lake Placid Police Department at a high rate of speed and two traffic officers attempted to stop Sisto, but he went through a stop sign “with complete disregard for their instructions.” The traffic enforcement officers followed the F-150 to the Mountain View Inn, where a driveway leads to a dead end. Sisto, without anywhere to go, put the truck into reverse and rammed the electric GEM car into a brick wall, striking an officer. Then he hit a staircase on the property while attempting to flee.
Josh Ashline, the traffic enforcement officer involved in the collision, was back on duty Friday.
He received only minor injuries and told the Enterprise he was all right.
The Ford F-150 then traveled down Main Street heading in the wrong lane, Moore said. An off-duty Lake Placid police officer drew his gun and attempted to stop Sisto, but was unsuccessful. The officer continued to pursue in his off-duty street car.
Alyssa Gentzler, an employee at Lake Placid Ski and Board Shop in Lake Placid, was an eyewitness to the chase on Main Street.
“I heard a woman yell and looked outside,” Gentzler said. “I saw the F-150 going like 35 mph the wrong way.”
Gentzler said the truck “almost hit” pedestrians as it passed.
“Probably 30 seconds after the police went by in pursuit,” she said. “A lot of people, myself included, were applauding the police as they passed.”
Sisto then dropped off three underage passengers in his car and proceeded toward OId Military Road.
Smith did not give any more details about the three underage passengers, ages 11, 13 and 16, or their relation to Sisto.
Moore said he was coming down Wesvalley Road when Sisto’s truck approached him in the wrong lane. Moore followed Sisto, driving about 400 to 500 yards behind him. He said Sisto had a “complete disregard for anyone’s safety.”
State police first spotted the Ford F-150 at around 1:43 p.m. at the McKenzie Mountain trailhead, where a cruiser was parked. The trooper witnessed the Ford F-150 strike a vehicle in the rear and hit the guiderail before the fatal collision occurred. The trooper said Sisto was driving 80 mph at the time.
Smith said the entire pursuit by state police cruisers on Old Military Road lasted about one minute and that troopers were never closer than 150 feet behind the truck.
“What I’d like to explain is that during the entire circumstances I think it’s clear that Mr. Sisto was in complete disregard for the safety of the public,” Smith said.
When approaching Curtis Lumber, Sisto’s truck collided head on with a Honda Fit, killing driver James Barney, 42, who was pronounced dead at the scene, and later killing the front-seat passenger, 38-year-old wife Kim Barney. She was transported to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake and later airlifted to Fletcher Allen Medical Center in Burlington, Vermont, but did not survive. Smith said a motorist who was a doctor attempted to save Kim Barney at the scene.
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 received injuries to her spine, pelvis and a fractured shoulder, Smith said. Emily is Kim Barney’s daughter and James Barney’s stepdaughter.
Moore said one of his officers held the 11-year-old in his arms, keeping her alert, until medical personal arrived on the scene.
An autopsy conducted Friday at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake by Dr. Francis Varga reported James Barney died of “multiple blunt-force traumatic injuries from the collision.” Barney’s death was ruled a homicide, according to Essex County Coroner Francis Whitelaw.
A blood test of Sisto was taken by state police, but the results are not known yet. Smith said Sisto showed signs of being under the influence of marijuana.
State police charged Sisto with unlawfully fleeing a police officer, reckless driving and driving while ability impaired by drugs. 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.
“Our investigation is continuing. There has been some information shared with us relative to him making general suicidal ideations in the not-too-distant past that may have contributed to the mindset that went into this erratic and reckless behavior,” Smith said.
Reporters asked the Troop B commander whether Sisto will also be charged with vehicular manslaughter for allegedly killing the Barneys with his truck.
“It is anticipated as this investigation continues that more serious charges will be laid against Mr. Sisto,” Smith said.
Sisto is currently being held in Essex County Jail, and his bail was upgraded to $200,000.