Schenectady County

Sister: Victim of ambulance crash was battling cancer, on way home

Man had been battling cancer
Christopher J. Aernecke was being taken home from Albany Medical Center by Mohawk Ambulance Service.
Christopher J. Aernecke was being taken home from Albany Medical Center by Mohawk Ambulance Service.

DUANESBURG — The man who died during a medical transport Wednesday evening has been identified as 64-year-old Chris J. Aernecke, of Sloansville, according to Schenectady County Sheriff Dominic A. Dagostino.

Aernecke was being taken home from Albany Medical Center by Mohawk Ambulance Service when the ambulance went off the road on Route 20 and hit a tree shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Aernecke’s sister, Sharon Aernecke Aitchison, said on Facebook that the 1971 graduate of Schoharie High School had been battling cancer and its effects for many years and was in Albany Medical Center for the past week for treatment of an infection and high fever. He was on his way home for family care when the crash occurred.

“It is our prayer that he never knew what happened and did not suffer,” she wrote. “He is at peace at last, pain-free, and with our parents.”

The sheriff also released the name of the 21-year-old driver and a 20-year-old emergency medical technician who were injured in the crash, which remains under investigation by the sheriff’s office. The ambulance was the only vehicle involved.

“We’re still in the stages of determining why the vehicle went off the road; we’re hopeful to have a determination in the next few days,” Dagostino said.

The ambulance was being driven by Cody Bryans, 21, who the sheriff said was taken to Ellis Hospital, where he was treated and released. EMT Elyssa Bevilacqua was taken to Albany Medical Center, where she was admitted.

Aernecke was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Dagostino. An autopsy was performed Thursday at Albany Medical Center, but a final determination of what caused his death was pending, he said.

Officials with the private ambulance service, meanwhile, said they were working with the sheriff’s office in the wake of the crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will be assisting with the accident reconstruction, Dagostino said.

“On behalf of Mohawk Ambulance Service and all of our employees, I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family in this very difficult time,” said James P. McPartlon III, president of Mohawk Ambulance Service. “Safety and patient care remain our top priority, and we are committed to holding our employees to the highest standards.

“We are working in full cooperation with law enforcement, and together our agencies are investigating what happened surrounding this terrible event.”

The ambulance corps did not answer questions about the crash and declined further comment Thursday.

Dagostino said the damaged vehicle has been impounded, and authorities will be examining data from the vehicle’s computer as part of the probe.

Mohawk Ambulance, based in Schenectady, operates more than 40 ambulances and emergency response vehicles in Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga and Rensselaer counties. With more than 250 employees, it is the largest private ambulance service in upstate New York.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

Categories: -News-, Schenectady County

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