Verizon worker killed in road collision

State police investigate a pedestrian crash Tuesday afternoon in Theresa. Ben Muir/Watertown Daily Times

THERESA — A Verizon worker directing traffic at a work zone on Main Street in the village was struck and killed by a passing motorist Tuesday afternoon.

According to state police, at about 12:50 p.m., a 2010 Chevrolet pickup truck, driven by John Vantassel, 84, of Philadelphia, was traveling east on Main Street when he failed to notice a flagman in a work zone holding a portable sign.

Mr. Vantassel struck the flagman as a result and drug him underneath his vehicle. The flagman was identified Tuesday night by state police as 38-year-old Alec R. Williamson. He was taken to River Hospital, Alexandria Bay, where he was pronounced dead.

Shortly before the crash, Main Street resident Cheryl Titch was holding her granddaughter when she heard a loud “thump” noise coming from outside her house, which turned out to be the sound of a truck striking Mr. Williamson. She and her family were inside their garage — within eyesight of the Verizon worker — before going inside. He was on the edge of the road, stopping and directing traffic through the construction zone all morning Tuesday.

“We all waved to him just a minute before going inside,” she said. “Then we heard the ‘thump’ and he was gone. He was not standing there anymore.”

Ms. Titch said she ran outside to find that Mr. Williamson was hit and thrown between 20 and 30 feet. She said she saw Mr. Vantassel’s truck continue to drive down Main Street before another worker who saw what happened blocked him off.

As she approached Mr. Williamson, Ms. Titch said his eyes were open, but they weren’t moving. She said she and another worker sat with him, talking with him even though he wasn’t responding. She said he was breathing, but not well.

“He was not responding to anything we were saying,” she said. “So we just kept talking to him, comforting him and telling him help was on its way.”

Ms. Titch said she sees a similar white diesel truck drive by her house almost every day. She said speeding in the area has been a big problem at least since she moved there three years ago.

Still, she said she’s never seen anything like what she saw Tuesday afternoon.

“I watch horror movies and this is crazy,” she said.

State police’s investigation is ongoing.

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(4) comments

Mallow53

Our reactions to a horrible thing like this should be sympathy, empathy, and kindness. The loss of a loved one is awful but made worse by it being an untimely accident. Anyone involved in such an awful accident is suffering also. Be kind.

rdsouth

Here's the thought process of some people: "Directing traffic is impairing my freedom of movement. Making me wait is stealing the moments of my life. Any restriction of what I"m entitled to by birth is initiation of the use of force and it entitles me to do anything I want to you. After all, people don't have rights by virtue of being human, they earn them by getting money." For those of you who need it indicated on the program, these people who think like this (or claim to think like this) are the villains, not the heroes. No matter what pious platitudes they are willing to pretend to.

BigNasty

People like you read the news and conjure up something in your mind about the intentions of others and judge them based on your imagination so you can do your holier-than-thou farce. You are a sick sinner. Repent.

rdsouth

I've met people like that. I imagine them when I see other drivers act aggressively, or hear about the results of irresponsible driving. It's not a big leap. A healthy disrespect for drivers is always a good idea, especially if there's the slightest bit of evidence to base it on. I suppose in this case the driver could have just been inattentive, but this kind of meme is definitely out there. Normally I'm a bit more objective, but this mindset particularly boils my goat because it's the purest example of having it so good you don't have to have the slightest touch with reality, until suddenly you run right into it. Show me somebody whining about how the world is bad to them personally and I'll show you somebody that has the luxury to whine, and is dangerous for it. For everyone who runs over a road worker because doing your duty to the common good is just too burdensome, there are plenty more like them waiting to happen.

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