RAY BROOK - Police say a man led them on a high-speed chase which ended in a collision that killed a husband and wife, and left their daughter in critical condition Thursday afternoon on state Route 86.
The head-on collision occurred between a Honda Fit, carrying the family of three, and a Ford F-150 pickup truck driven by the man allegedly fleeing police. State police said the man was driving the truck in an "extremely reckless manner" at a high rate of speed after a "hit-and-run" collision with a police vehicle in Lake Placid. The family inside the Honda was trapped and had to be extricated by Saranac Lake and Lake Placid rescue personnel.
The family was from Potsdam. Driver James Barney, 42, was pronounced dead at the scene by Essex County Coroner Francis Whitelaw. The front-seat passenger was his wife, Kim Barney, 38; she was transported to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake and later airlifted to Fletcher Allen Medical Center in Burlington, Vermont, where she died from her injuries.
Officers in the state police Collision Reconstruction Unit survey a Ford F-150 pickup truck that was part of a two-vehicle collision Thursday in Ray Brook that left a couple dead, their daughter critically injured and the driver of this truck in police custody.
(Photo for the News — Matthew Turner)
Emily Colby, 11, was airlifted from the scene to Fletcher Allen, where she is listed in critical condition and undergoing surgery for multiple injuries, according to police. She is Kim Barney's daughter and James Barney's stepdaughter.
Police have not released the pickup truck driver's name yet; they say they will do so after he has been formally charged with a crime, which will be some time during the night. He was not injured in the collision, according to Trooper Jennifer Fleishman, state police Troop B's public information officer. He is in custody at the state police barracks in Ray Brook, right near the collision site.
The collision happened in front of Curtis Lumber and the state Adirondack Park Agency on one of the busiest weeks of the year, with Sunday's Ironman Lake Placid triathlon bringing roughly 20,000 people to the area in addition to the regular stream of summer tourists.
Authorities closed state Route 86 when the collision occurred, causing long lines of stopped traffic, so the state police Collision Reconstruction Unit could recreate the collision. State police reopened the roadway between 5:30 and 6 p.m. to one-way traffic, letting motorists drive through the Curtis Lumber parking lot as they continue to investigate on the road.
The Lake Placid Police Department reported that the incident began at 1:35 p.m. when a police officer tried to pull over the pickup on Main Street in Lake Placid. The truck's driver then backed into the officer's electric Gem car, striking it and resulting in minor injuries to the officer. Village police began to pursue the fleeing driver, resulting in a high-speed chase that ended with the collision in Ray Brook.
At 2:20 p.m., rescue workers at the scene in Ray Brook were giving CPR to one person near the car. Other rescue workers were holding up a blue tarp, shielding a victim from sight. Motorists gathered near the shoulder of the road, which was taped off by police.
Two ambulances were seen leaving the scene, and a state police helicopter was flown to the state police Troop B headquarters.
Donna Ottavinia, owner of the Ray Brook Sunoco, was on the scene after the crash happened.
"I saw debris all over the road and a lot of cop cars," Ottavinia said. "They (cop cars) went flying by here and then ambulances."
Drivers headed toward Lake Placid were being turned around by state police in front of their headquarters, and also in the village of Saranac Lake.
"I've been out there directing traffic and telling everybody how to get to (Interstate) 87 or Lake Placid," Ottavinia said. "Most people are trying to head to Lake Placid right now."
The case remains under investigation by state police, Lake Placid police and Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague.
Readers mourned the deaths and offered prayers for the orphaned girl on the Enterprise Facebook page.
"This rips me apart," Adam Mayville wrote. "I am not even a parent and the person who does the damage doesn't even get hurt badly once again."
"So so sad," wrote Nikki Christy. "All for no reason...let him get the max punishment. It's always the bad guys who come out w/ nothing wrong while the innocent suffer!!
"Just not fair!!!" Robin VanWeelden wrote.