Briarcliff, NY Terrible Collision On Taconic, Jul 2009

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Taconic State Parkway, N.Y. - The minivan, with a 36-year-old mother at the wheel and her 5-year-old son, his sister and their three cousins from Long Island in the passenger seats, headed onto the Taconic State Parkway in Westchester County. It would have been a routine maneuver on a Sunday afternoon, down a ramp and into traffic, except that the minivan was going the wrong way.
Soon oncoming cars were swerving to avoid the minivan as it plowed on, the State Police said. But a sport-utility vehicle collided with the minivan, killing everyone but the boy, including the three people in the S.U.V.; a father, his son and another man, all of Yonkers.
The State Police said the crash threw the mother and the children in the minivan onto an embankment, and the minivan caught fire. As it went out of control, it careened into another, smaller S.U.V., injuring the driver and passenger.
Joseph C. Becerra, an investigator with the State Police, said troopers were working to recreate what had happened. Officers were looking for clues by inspecting exit ramps near the scene of the accident, near Route 117, he said.
He said the police were interviewing drivers who swerved to keep from hitting the minivan. He said officials hoped that any witnesses who had seen the minivan before the accident - on the parkway or on side roads leading to it - would contact the State Police.
The minivan, which Mr. Becerra described as a red Ford Windstar that burned to a gunmetal gray, came to a stop on a grassy strip between the lanes of the parkway. It had been going south in the northbound lanes when it collided with the S.U.V. about 1:35 p.m., Mr. Becerra said.
Three girls in the minivan and the driver, who was severely burned, died at the scene of the crash, he said. Another girl died at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.
The boy was being treated for head trauma and was in critical condition, he said.
"We tried the best we could for the four children," said Chief Joe LaGrippo of the Hawthorne Fire Department, who said his firefighters were the first on the scene. "It was a terrible scene. Eight people's lives lost in a split second, and four of them little girls."
The man and the woman in the smaller S.U.V. had minor injuries and were treated at Phelps Memorial
Hospital Center in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. None of the victims' names were released. The parkway was shut down for several hours.
The accident was the second on the Taconic on Sunday involving a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction. The Associated Press reported that five people were injured several hours earlier in an accident about 20 miles north.
Later on Sunday, four people died in a crash on Montauk Highway in Copiague when a car and a minivan collided, the A.P. reported.

New York Times New York 2009-07-27

Listing of the Casualties:
DIANE SCHULER, 36, West Babylon, L.I.
ERIN SCHULER, 2-years-old, her daughter.
EMMA HANCE, 8-years-old, her niece, Floral Park, L.I.
ALYSON HANCE, 7-years-old, her niece, Floral Park, L.I.
KATIE HANCE, 5-years-old, her niece, Floral Park, L.I.
GUY BASTARDI, 49, his son, Yonkers.
DANIEL LONGO, 72, Yonkers.

BRIAN SCHULER, 5-year-old, her son is in critical condition.