In Richfield Springs, No Answers, Many Questions Remain

In Richfield Springs,

No Answers, Many

Questions Remain

NY Fire Marshall Cleared After

4 Cars Hit, 10 Injured Downtown

The force of impact of the fire marshal’s truck is evident in the third car it struck before running into the steps of the Richfield Springs Post Office. The white car then struck the blue car in front of it. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.COM

Sheriff Devlin was at the scene into the evening the night of Dec. 20, 2019. (AllOTSEGO.com photo)

RICHFIELD SPRINGS – Mayor Robin Moshier still remembers the sound of the accident.

“My office was in the back, but you could hear the car going down the road, hitting things,” she remembered Tuesday after no charges were brought against the driver. “I had no idea what it was. But by the end of the night, we all knew.”

That was Dec. 10, 2019, when 10 people were injured when a state fire marshal, identified as Kevin Ritton, the secretary of the Otsego County Emergency Services, experienced a “medical event” and crashed his truck into four cars before coming to rest on the steps of the post office.

D.A. Muehl

The investigation was closed Monday afternoon, when District Attorney John Muehl declined to file charges.

“There was no evidence or criminality or intent,” said Muehl. “Therefore, the investigation is closed.”

Muehl was unable to detail the medical event, citing HPPA laws.

Around 4 p.m. that day, Ritton’s truck was headed east on Main Street when it suddenly accelerated, smashing into one vehicle in the vicinity of Richfield Springs Central School, then a second vehicle at Lake and Main, next to the village’s landmark clock.

It continued, still at a high speed, crushing a white car in front of the post office, pushing it into a blue car behind it.  It then veered to the right and ran into the building’s concrete front steps, coming to a stop, according to Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr., who was at the scene leading the investigation, assisted by his Undersheriff Cameron Allison.

After striking three cars, forcing one into a fourth, the state Fire Marshall’s truck crashed into the side of the Richfield Springs Post Office. (AllOTSEGO.com photo)

Devlin said there were no skid marks at the scene, indicating that Ritton did not attempt to stop the vehicle.

One of the victims, a woman, was right outside of James Jordan Architects, where Moshier works. “We brought her inside and out of the cold,” said the mayor.

911 dispatched 8-10 ambulances to the scene; five of the injured were transported to Bassett Hospital, three were sent to Utica hospitals and one was flown to Albany Med on a LifeNet helicopter.

Ritton was tested at the scene for drugs and alcohol and none were found. Icy roads were also ruled out as a contributing factor, as was mechanical failure.

“He is being fully cooperative and has agreed to talk to us,” Devlin said the night of the crash. “At this point, we don’t believe this was intentional.”

The damage to the post office has yet to be fixed, said Moshier. “That would be a federal job,” she said. “As far as I know, no repairs have even been planned.”

“It could have been so much worse,” she continued. “20 minutes earlier and the kids would have been getting out of school. 20 minutes later and people would have been getting off work.”

But the Village is resilient, she said. “People are past that,” she said. “Business goes on.”


4 thoughts on “In Richfield Springs, No Answers, Many Questions Remain

  1. Chip Northrup

    If the driver knew that they had a medical condition, then they may be liable for damages since they would have known that they could experience a “medical event” and lose control. Meaning they should not have been driving. The fact that the accident was not intentional is irrelevant.

  2. MAY-BRITT JOYCE

    Give it up, people, why are you beating this into the ground? If a person had a heart attack, which they probably didn’t anticipate, would you continue to pursue the happening? The case is closed. It happened last December, the 20th, I believe, not the 10th. We are now in a pandemic which deserves our attention and caring positively about others.

  3. Don Campbell

    I f everyone knew what an honorable man Kevin is, they would know that he was no doubt not aware of this unforeseen “medical event”. What if the situation was reversed and it happened to one of you who are pointing their finger?
    Kevin will now have to live with the fact that even though it wasn’t his fault. the accident caused damage to people that he feels responsible for. How would YOU feel? Could YOU, or would YOU handle it?

  4. Fran LeRoux

    I agree with the idea that the accident was not intentional.
    No one wants to experience a “medical event”, not even the people
    who are still blaming Kevin.
    Use your energy to help someone during the pandemic, people.

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