Washington County

Families file notices of claim in Greenwich snowbank death

'Loss of support, loss of voluntary assistance' cited
The snow pile where two boys were buried in Greenwich, seen on Dec. 14, 2016.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
The snow pile where two boys were buried in Greenwich, seen on Dec. 14, 2016.

GREENWICH — The families of two boys involved in a deadly snowbank accident have begun legal action, alleging negligence on the part of the village.

Rachael Demarest’s 13-year-old son, Joshua, was playing in a snowbank with his friend, 12-year-old Tyler Day, on Dec. 13, when a village truck dumped more snow on top of them. She and Thomas Day, Tyler’s father, each filed notices of claim — precursors to lawsuits — on March 8 and March 9, respectively, in Washington County state Supreme Court through Albany attorney Christopher Buckey.

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In the claims, which are required before citizens can file lawsuits against municipalities, the parents allege the village was negligent by not warning of the snowbank’s potential danger. They also allege the village did not keep village property in a reasonably safe condition and that the accident was a result of negligence and misconduct on the part of village Department of Public Works employees who failed “to maintain a proper lookout before dumping snow onto the snowbank.”

Demarest, whose son died after becoming trapped, intends to file a wrongful death suit and seek damages for the “wrongful, unlawful, negligent and careless acts and omissions of the village,” according to the filing. 

Joshua Demarest, a Greenwich Central School 7th-grader who lived on Rock Street, was reported missing by his older sister that evening when he did not return home before dark. Police began their search and found footprints leading to the Rock Street lot, which the village uses to dump snow during storm cleanups. The village does not own the lot, and the lot’s owner, Robert Sipperly, is also named as a defendant in the notices of claim. 

Police dogs alerted rescuers to a snow pile, and crews began digging, recovering Demarest at around 7:15 p.m. and Day a few minutes later, police said. Joshua was taken to Saratoga Hospital where he was pronounced dead at around 10 p.m.; Tyler survived.

“It’s truly a tragic accident, and our thoughts are with both families as they’re dealing with the challenges,” said John Aspland, the Glens Falls attorney who is handling the matter for the village.

He said he would take testimony from the family based on the allegations, “and then we’re going to further consider the different possibilities that arise from the testimony.” He insisted what happened was an accident.

“I don’t think that the village did or failed to do anything that led to the tragedy,” he said.

Thomas Day alleges his son’s suffering included terror and conscious pain “over the course of several hours, from the time of the snowbank collapse until he was extricated,” as well as hypothermia, emotional duress and continuing pain. He points to continuing medical, hospital and nursing expenses in the notice of claim.

In her notice of claim, Rachael Demarest alleges “loss of support, loss of voluntary assistance, loss of possible inheritance and funeral expenses,” while also pointing to medical, hospital and nursing expenses she incurred. 

She also said in the filing that her son endured conscious pain and suffering before succumbing to his injuries.

Efforts to reach Demarest and Day were not successful on Tuesday.

In the claims, which are required before citizens can file lawsuits against municipalities, the parents allege the village was negligent by not warning of the snowbank’s potential danger. They also allege the village failed to maintain village property in a reasonably safe condition and claim the accident was a result of negligence and misconduct on the part of village Department of Public Works employees who failed “to maintain a proper lookout before dumping snow onto the snowbank.”

Joshua Demarest was reported missing by his older sister that evening, when he did not return home before dark. Police began their search and found footprints leading to the lot, which the village uses to dump snow after storm cleanups. The village does not own the lot, Cambridge-Greenwich Police Chief George Bell said at the time

Police dogs alerted rescuers to a snow pile, and crews began digging, recovering Demarest at around 7:15 p.m. and Day a few minutes later, police said. Joshua was taken to Saratoga Hospital where he was pronounced dead at around 10 p.m.; Tyler survived.

“It’s truly a tragic accident, and our thoughts are with both families as they’re dealing with the challenges,” said John Aspland, the Glens Falls attorney who is handling the matter for the village. 

He said he would take testimony from the family based on the allegations, “and then we’re going to further consider the different possibilities that arise from the testimony.” He insisted what happened was an accident.

“I don’t think that the village did or failed to do anything that led to the tragedy,” he said.

Thomas Day alleges his son’s suffering included terror and conscious pain “over the course of several hours, from the time of the snowbank collapse until he was extricated,” as well as hypothermia, emotional duress and continuing pain. He points to continuing medical, hospital and nursing expenses in the notice of claim.

In her notice of claim, Rachael Demarest alleges “loss of support, loss of voluntary assistance, loss of possible inheritance and funeral expenses,” while also pointing to medical, hospital and nursing expenses she incurred. 

She also said, in the filing, that her son endured conscious pain and suffering before succumbing to his injuries.

Efforts to reach Demarest and Day were not successful on Tuesday.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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