A Wilton couple, both in their early 70s, were killed Friday afternoon when their van pulled into the path of a tractor-tailer on Route 9 near Northway Exit 17, state police said.
The accident closed down a portion of Route 9 and the northbound Exit 17 entrance and exit ramps for six hours after the 2:14 p.m. accident in front of a gas station and convenience store.
State police said that a 2005 Dodge minivan operated by Charles M. Tierney, 71, of 100 Gordon Lane, failed to yield the right of way as Tierney was making a left turn out of a parking lot on the east side of Route 9. The van was hit on the driver’s side door by a 2006 Mack tractor-trailer going north and operated by Jerome H. Hunt, 56, of Salem.
Saratoga County Coroner Thomas Salvadore said Tierney was pronounced dead at the scene. He said Tierney’s wife, Anna K. Tierney, 70, of the same address, was taken by the Moreau Emergency Squad to Glens Falls Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
Police and residents of the Route 9 area near Northway Exit 17 say the stretch of highway is dangerous, especially with cars and trucks pulling out of gas stations and fast food eateries close to the exit.
“It’s scary,” said Madeline Roland, who lives on Route 9 about a half-mile north of Exit 17.
Roland, who has lived in this area for more than 30 years, said the town allowed a gas station and convenience store to be built too close to the Northway exit onto Route 9.
Roland said traffic coming off the Northway at Exit 17 doesn’t slow down too much in this area.
“It scares me,” she said. She suggested putting a traffic light in this area.
Another convenience store and gas station is also located in this general area.
After the accident, a tractor-trailer tanker truck could be seen crossing a portion of Route 9 near the accident site and the Tierneys’ van was across Route 9 and covered with a blue tarp.
State police said Friday night that the accident remains under investigation. Initial police reports indicate the accident was caused by Charles Tierney’s failure to yield to the tractor-trailer and was not the truck driver’s fault.
Meanwhile, police also had to contend with two other relatively minor traffic accidents on Route 9 not long after the fatal accident occurred. One of these accidents was on Route 9 about a mile north of Northway Exit 17 and the other was south of Northway Exit 17. Neither accident resulted in serious injuries, according to state police.
Members of the South Glens Falls Fire Department helped police control traffic on Route 9 near the accident. Traffic heading south on Route 9 was backed up for at least a mile. When traffic reached the corner of Route 9 and Fawn Road, drivers were directed to detours off Route 9.
The Route 9-Exit 17 area was reopened to traffic about 8 p.m. Friday.