A cigarette run turned tragic Saturday night, when, Town of Wallkill police said, three young City of Middletown residents were killed when the car they were in hit a tree on Ingrassia Road.
A fourth passenger was injured but left the scene before authorities got there. He is at Orange Regional Medical Center being treated for broken vertebrae and is expected to live, said Town of Wallkill Police Chief Robert Hertman.
Hertman said the four friends left a get-together on Route 17M and were driving west on Ingrassia Road when the car crossed the eastbound lane and the back of the car struck a tree near 386 Ingrassia. The trunk of the car appears to have been pushed into the rear passenger area.
Driver Germaine Otero Jr., 18, and backseat passenger Dezhane Floyd, 20, were both dead when emergency responders arrived, said Hertman.
Howells and Circleville firefighters responded and extricated backseat passenger Corey Thomas, 21. The Town of Wallkill Volunteer Ambulance Corps brought him to ORMC, where he died an hour later.
Front-seat passenger Michael Sanchez, 21, also of the City of Middletown, was hurt in the crash but appears to have walked away and gotten a ride home, Hertman said. Police found him Sunday, when someone brought him to the hospital.
Hertman said police are waiting to talk further with Sanchez about what happened and why he left. Hertman said police don’t expect to charge Sanchez with anything.
There was a dusting of snow on the road that night. Hertman said the cause of the crash is still being investigated; police are waiting for toxicology reports to see if drugs or alcohol played a role.
“At this point, all we can say is the driver failed to maintain a lane of travel,” Hertman said.
Town Supervisor Dan Depew said people should be careful Tuesday and Wednesday, when many will be traveling for Thanksgiving in stormy weather. He said police will be out in force Wednesday, which is usually a busy night at the bars, as people come home and catch up with old friends.
“I feel for the families,” said Depew. “The town is certainly wishing for them and praying for them at this time.”
The car had Pennsylvania plates and had been borrowed from a friend of a friend, Hertman said.
Otero was wearing a seat belt. Authorities are waiting for the final report, but Depew said that the first responders at the scene didn’t believe the passengers were buckled up.
The car in the crash: