Trooper injured while aiding motorist on Northway

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
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— A state trooper suffered minor injuries Tuesday afternoon after his cruiser was sideswiped by a passing tow truck as he helped a disabled motorist on the Northway.

State police said Trooper Gary A. Strothenke from the Wilton barracks was sitting in his parked patrol car on the right southbound shoulder of the Northway in the town of Wilton about 3:45 p.m. when a passing tow truck registered to AAA Northway and driven by Berakah Y. Smith, of Gansevoort, drifted onto the shoulder and sideswiped Strothenke’s car. Troopers said Strothenke had his emergency lights activated and had set flares out prior to the crash.

The motorist, Rachel Palmer, 23, of Ballston Lake, was seated in the truck of a friend, Adam Geleta, 23, of Clifton Park, while Geleta was attempting to change a tire on her vehicle. Geleta heard the collision with the patrol car and was able to scramble away from Palmer’s vehicle before it was also hit by the tow truck, troopers said.

The tow truck then continued off of the roadway, down an embankment and into a wooded area, where it came to rest, troopers said.

Strothenke was taken to Saratoga Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries and released. Smith was also taken to Saratoga Hospital and also treated for minor injuries. Palmer and Galeta were unhurt.

Smith was arraigned on vehicle and traffic charges in Wilton Town Court and released on his own recognizance. The accident remains under investigation, with one lane shut down for nearly six hours.

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