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.