B y Matthew Rice
A collision between a car transporter loaded with new vehicles bound for Ross Chevrolet in Whitehall and an out-of-state minivan injured three and tied up traffic for much of the afternoon as the resulting crash sent vehicles flying along the shoulder of Route 4 Thursday morning.
State Police said the two vehicles, a car carrier driven by Allan E. Kulka, 36, ofGlens Falls, and a black Nissan Quest minivan driven by Richard E. Briggs II, 46, of Rumson, N.J., occurred when the tractor trailer crossed the center line and traveled well into the opposite lane striking the van when the van’s driver was unable to avoid the collision.
Briggs told police he was traveling south when the vehicles collided about four miles outside ofWhitehall.
Briggs reported driving as far to the shoulder of the road as he could, police said, but was still struck by the car carrier near the rear end of the vehicle rolling it over and into the ditch.
It was not immediately clear why Kulka left his lane.
Alcohol did not appear to be a factor and Kulka toldEMSworkers he was not diabetic, Police said.
The crash remained under investigation Thursday and police at the scene said they could not comment at the time on whether Kulka had fallen asleep at the wheel.
Police said the car carrier continued to veer out of the northbound lane, leaving the roadway and crashing, causing the trailer to jackknife and roll firing cars and pickup trucks off of the trailer along the side of the road as well as into a nearby swamp.
A passenger in the minivan was Richard E. Briggs, 72, ofChevy Chase,Md.
Both men from the minivan were transported toGlens FallsHospitalby ambulance with minor injuries and were expected to be released from the hospital later in the day.
Due to a reported neck injury, Kulka was taken by med-flight helicopter toAlbanyMedicalCenterfrom a landing zone at Great Meadow Prison in Comstock.
The crash occurred directly across the road from the house of Whitehall Times outdoor columnist Gene Terry and his wifeDixie.
Terry said he heard the crash which was possibly the two vehicles colliding, glanced outside and “immediately called 911.”
Police said they determined Kulka was at fault and would be charged with driving left of pavement markings.
State Police, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, emergency squad personnel fromFortAnnandWhitehallalong withWhitehallandFortAnnfire fighters responded to the scene of the10:15 a.m.crash.
As the car carrier left the road the cab knocked over trees and bushes tearing up the roadside before coming to rest, upright, but facing perpendicular to the lanes of travel well off the road surface with one vehicle still attached behind it.
The trailer jackknifed spilling vehicles onto the roadway as well as sending two flying off of the carrier. Much of the delay in reopening the road was due to removal of the wreckage of the car carrier and the seven vehicles it was carrying. A small fleet of wreckers responded to the scene along with numerous flat bed trucks to remove the heavily damaged vehicles.
A gold-colored car and pickup of the same color came to rest in a low-lying, swampy area, both more than 20 feet north of the trailer; two vehicles remained trapped inside the car carrier trailer. Heavily damaged during their removal from the side of the road were a black pickup and SUV; police said all of the vehicles were likely totaled.