ACCIDENT AT ROUTE 20, 80
BY JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
SPRINGFIELD CENTER – Matthew McIvor saw the whole thing.
At around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 21, at the State Police barracks in Richfield Springs, across the street from his house, “I saw him the woman get into her car, a black Jeep, and the man kept shouting at her,” McIvor said when interview at the subsequent accident at Kelly’s Corners, at Route 20 and 80.
“He banged his fist on her jeep and put a dent on the driver’s side. I called 911 when I saw that.”
Less than half an hour later, that man would be dead, the victim of a head-on collision following a high-speed chase that ended when his red Buick Lacrosse ran into an Otsego County Sheriff’s cruiser, injuring Deputy James Mateunas.
According to Trooper Aga Dembinska, Troop C spokesman, the man in a car who had been accused of harassing, then threatening a woman with a knife. When troopers approached, he fled and officers pursued him east on Route 20.
As the fleeing car approached Route 20’s intersection with 80, Mateunas’ cruisher was parked, facing west with its lights flashing. The fleeing man’s car ran head-on into the cruiser, Dembinska said.
Coroner Michael Fox pronounced the suspect dead at the scene.
McIvor was inadvertently drawn in to the drama. An EMS with the Richfield Springs Fire Department, he was paged at 2:44 p.m. to go to the crash in Springfield Center. “I knew that page had to do with what I saw at the barracks,” he said.
At the crash site, McIvor learned the escaping car had gone up to 115 mph.
Also at the scene, Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. said that Mateunas suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was taken by ambulance to Bassett Hospital and admitted for surgery.
He “suffered multiple fractures to his lower extremities,” said Devlin.
The suspect’s name has not yet been released. The woman has been identified as Robin Church.
McIvor did not know whether or not Church and the man knew each other.
“He was not her husband,” McIvor said, “because her husband called 911 seven minutes after I did.”
McIvor said he is a reporter for Automotive Press and reports on crash impacts, among other car topics. He said he is planning to attend the 2019 Virginia Highway Safety Summit in Roanoke tomorrow, at which he will learn about crash investigations.