4 New York men killed when car plunges down embankment

AP News
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Posted: Aug 27, 2015 12:56 PM

SAUGERTIES, N.Y. (AP) — A car carrying five young co-workers plunged down a 110-foot embankment in the Hudson Valley, hit a house and came to rest on its roof, killing four men inside, police said.

Meredith McSpirit, 19, of Kingston, failed to make a sharp turn Wednesday morning at an intersection in the village of Saugerties, sending the car down a private drive and over a heavily vegetated embankment. It hit a house across the street from the embankment and landed upside down, trapping McSpirit and her four passengers, according to police.

"It struck it with such force that it caused structural damage," Police Chief Joseph Sinagra said Thursday.

No one was inside the home, but the impact fractured pipes and flooded the basement, he said.

Sinagra said it was too early in the investigation to determine whether the crash involved human error, criminality or mechanical problems. He could not say whether the car was traveling faster than the village's 30 mph speed limit.

Killed were Dante Crump, 22, Kaireem Meeks Jr., 24, and Jante Clark, 26, all of Kingston, and Adam McQueen, 22, of Ulster Park, police said. McSpirit was in stable condition Thursday at an Albany hospital with a spinal injury.

All five had just finished a shift at an equestrian show where they worked.

By midday Thursday, a crowdsourcing site set up to pay for the men's funerals had raised more than $6,000. Deborah Izzo, who taught Crump and McQueen in Kingston schools, pledged $100 for "my kids."

"They believed in themselves and they were grateful for everything everybody did for them," Izzo said. "I don't know how any of us are going to recover."

McQueen had told Izzo this summer he planned to transfer this fall to the State University of New York at New Paltz to major in business and marketing.

"He's a salesman," she said. "I could see it."

Crump was mature and caring, Izzo said, recalling the time he helped her up when she tripped during a fire drill. He was to begin his senior year at Hartwick College.

"He was full of life and full of fun," said the Rev. Paul Messner of the Otsego County Lutheran Parish, who advises the fraternity where Crump was a social brother.

A week before the crash, McSpirit was charged by state police with endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly leaving her 2-month-old daughter with her 17-year-old sister after the two got stoned on marijuana. That charge is still pending, according to state police in Kingston.

The victims' employer, HITS CEO Tom Struzzieri told the Times Herald-Record of Middletown that all five were coming from a shift Wednesday. He said the four men worked in the VIP section of HITS, while McSpirit worked in food service.