Woman killed in New York crash was anthropologist in Pacific

AP News
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Posted: Jul 21, 2015 1:57 PM

LAGRANGE, N.Y. (AP) — A woman killed in a crash last week on a New York highway was a well-known anthropologist and activist in Papua New Guinea in the southwest Pacific.

State police said Nancy Sullivan, 57, was driving an SUV on the Taconic State Parkway Thursday night when the vehicle left the road and struck a rock embankment in LaGrange, 70 miles north of New York City.

Sullivan was pronounced dead at the scene, troopers said.

Three children from Papua New Guinea, ages 5, 8 and 10, were airlifted to Westchester Medical Center. Troopers said two remained in critical condition Tuesday and one was listed as stable. The children's names weren't released.

A 43-year-old passenger, Skudy Bangan of Papua New Guinea, was treated for injuries that were not deemed life-threatening.

The cause of the crash is being investigated, police said.

Sullivan ran an anthropology consulting company in Madang province in Papua New Guinea, where she had lived for 23 years, according to her Facebook page and the Australian Broadcasting Corp.'s Radio Australia.

She was known as a staunch advocate for Papua New Guinea's residents whose way of life is threatened by logging and mining operations. In an interview with Radio Australia, John Chitoa, an official with a Madang-based non-governmental organization, referred to Sullivan as "a great warrior" for the people.

Sullivan spent much of the past decade working to document and preserve an extensive cave art system in the island nation's Karawari region, where the images drawn on walls date back thousands of years.

State police said Tuesday they were still unsure where Sullivan was traveling to when the crash occurred or how the children were related to those in the SUV.