Police say Rotterdam Junction driver who killed friend had suspended license
GLENVILLE A Rotterdam Junction man who struck and killed his good friend in an accident earlier this month didn’t cause the accident, but he was driving with a suspended license, police said Thursday.
Meanwhile, police released more details about the accident, including the possibility that the man killed may have driven through the red light acting on a cue from a right-turning truck in front of him. He may have assumed the light had turned green, when it was still red.
The accident happened Aug. 2 on Route 5 at the intersection with Route 103 and the entrance to Stewart’s.
Glenville police had previously released the cause of the accident; a Stewart’s surveillance camera captured it on video.
The video showed the car driven by 21-year-old Luke J. Mitchell clearly pulling out into traffic, through a red light, where it was struck by one driven by 25-year-old Sam A. Orologio of Rotterdam Junction.
Police spokesman Lt. Stephen Janik said the video showed there was no time for Orologio to break or avoid Mitchell’s car. There were no skid marks. Tests showed the impact came at 47 to 53 mph.
“There was no chance” to stop or slow down, Janik said.
In a cruel twist, Orologio had been a good friend of Mitchell. They had seen each other just 20 minutes earlier, Janik said.
Though Orologio didn’t cause the accident and couldn’t avoid it, he was driving with a license that had been suspended due to multiple failures to answer summonses, Janik said.
He was charged later with one count of second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation, a misdemeanor.
As for why Mitchell pulled out, Janik said they can only speculate. But the footage suggests a far-too-common mistake made by drivers.
In the video, Mitchell is at the light behind a pickup truck. With the light red, the pickup truck makes a legal right turn onto Route 5. Mitchell immediately follows straight into the intersection, as if the light were green.
“You can assume that he wasn’t paying attention to the light,” Janik said Thursday, “he was paying attention to the vehicle in front of him.”
It’s a mistake Janik said that he sees elsewhere, sometimes with traffic going straight, taking a cue from turning traffic.
Though it’s not conclusive that that’s what happened in Mitchell’s case, Janik said there is still something to be learned.
“I guess the lesson is always make sure that you’re aware of the traffic signal,” he said.
Police said toxicology tests showed no drugs or alcohol in Mitchell’s system.