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The Times
  • Family member suing village, police in fatal Route 5 accident

  • A legal document filed with the village of Herkimer shows the sister of the woman who died in a car crash resulting from a police pursuit is seeking damages for negligence on behalf of the village and its police department.

    Through a Freedom of Information request, The Times obtained a copy of the notice of claim which was filed with the village office on Aug. 13.

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  • A legal document filed with the village of Herkimer shows the sister of the woman who died in a car crash resulting from a police pursuit is seeking damages for negligence on behalf of the village and its police department.
    Through a Freedom of Information request, The Times obtained a copy of the notice of claim which was filed with the village office on Aug. 13.
    Louise Medallis, of Frankfort, is listed as the claimant and the village of Herkimer and the village of Herkimer Police Department are listed as the respondents.
    Medallis was a passenger in Gail Pietruska’s vehicle on May 24 when it was struck by a 2003 KIA driven by 24-year-old Daniel Conklin, of Rochester, at the intersection with Paratore Road and Route 5 in the town of Schuyler. The collision propelled the 2006 Toyota driven by Pietruska across the south shoulder of the road, according to the document.
    Police had been pursuing Conklin in a high speed chase after he was allegedly witnessed speeding through a school zone on German Street in the village. A woman was also seen exiting the vehicle during the incident, but it was unclear if she was pushed out or willingly got out of the vehicle.
    Pietruska, 65, of Frankfort, suffered internal injuries and later died at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse. Medallis was severely injured in the accident.
    In the document, it lists the village and police department were negligent for the following reasons:
    •Failing to terminate the pursuit prior to the collision;
    •Failing to comply with proper law enforcement practices and procedures relating to the pursuit of occupants of a motor vehicle suspected of criminal activity;
    •Failing to recognize that the gravity of risk to the general public of the pursuit outweighed the benefit of apprehending the suspect involved, considering the type of crime allegedly committed;
    •Failing to use other law enforcement techniques that posed less of a risk to the general public.
    The notice goes on to state as a result of the village’s and police department’s actions, Medallis was severely injured due to high speed impact.
    No dollar amount for damages is listed in the document.
    Conklin was arraigned in Herkimer County Court on Aug. 13 on a sealed 15-count indictment, which included the charges of second-degree manslaughter, first- and second-degree unlawfully fleeing a police officer in a motor vehicle, second-degree assault, second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and multiple traffic infractions. Conklin pled not guilty.
    The pursuit happened over the span of six miles in five minutes, with speeds reaching over 80 miles per hour, according to Herkimer Police Chief Joseph Malone in an interview a day after the accident. He said the decision had just been made to call off the pursuit when the collision happened.
    Page 2 of 2 - A notice of claim only preserves someone’s right to sue, said Village Attorney Nicholas Macri, earlier this month, and that oftentimes a notice does not become a lawsuit.

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