There were two fatal crashes in Saratoga Springs over the Travers race weekend, including one along a section of Route 9 south of Saratoga Spa State Park that has a long history of serious and fatal crashes.
A motorcyclist was killed about 10:30 p.m. Sunday in a collision with an SUV at the intersection of the main park access road and Route 9, city police said. In the other incident, a bicyclist collided with a tractor-trailer on Route 29.
The name of the motorcyclist hadn’t been released as of late Monday. It wasn’t yet clear if there was any connection between the crash and heavy traffic on Route 9 letting out from the sold-out Luke Bryan concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
The crash involved two motorcycles leaving the park and an SUV, and it kept Route 9 restricted to one lane each way until 2:30 a.m. Monday. One motorcyclist was taken to Saratoga Hospital and pronounced dead a short time later; the second motorcyclist and a passenger were taken to Albany Medical Center with what police said appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries.
None of the names of those involved have yet been released.
It is at least the sixth fatality on Route 9 between Northway Exit 13 and South Broadway in the past six years.
The highway is four lanes wide for much of that two-mile distance, before narrowing to two lanes north of the park. Before that, the highway is lined with commercial properties or park land.
City police spokesman Lt. John Catone said the history of accidents on that stretch of road doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem with the road.
“Route 9 in general is a highway, and remains a highway all the way down to Siena College,” he said Monday. “Any kind of highway is dangerous. You really have to look at the circumstances of each accident.”
Three of the fatal incidents involved people who were on foot and tried to cross the road or for some reason walked into a driving lane, he noted.
“It’s the same thing along Central Avenue in Colonie. Someone gets hit about once a month,” Catone said.
In Sunday night’s crash, Catone said police are looking at the speed of the motorcycles, as well as the circumstances under which the SUV driver was making a left turn.
In the other fatality, a bicyclist was killed by a tractor-trailer on the other side of the city, at Route 29 and Weibel Avenue. That accident occurred about 5:27 p.m. Friday.
Police said the tractor-trailer, a Ryder Truck Rental being leased to Logistics One of Saratoga Springs, was eastbound on Route 29 to make a delivery in Greenwich.
The bicyclist, Justin Price, 20, of Union Avenue, Saratoga Springs, was also eastbound, heading to another job at the Best Buy near Northway Exit 15 after leaving a hot-walker’s job at Saratoga Race Course.
The investigation showed Price began drifting into the eastbound driving lane, even as truck driver Kerry Williams, 47, of Main Street, Corinth, began to brake and take evasive action.
“Price continued to drift across the driving lane and ultimately struck the passenger side front tire of the tractor-trailer,” police said in a news release.
Price then struck the dual rear tires of the tractor-cab and came to rest under the trailer, which is where he was when police arrived.
A witness who is a registered nurse began immediate treatment before an ambulance arrived. Price was taken to Albany Medical Center by helicopter, where police said he died of massive head trauma about 8:30 p.m. Friday.
Neither alcohol nor speed appear to have been factors, police said, and Logistics One cooperated fully in the investigation. “Based on the investigation and witness accounts, it appears Price became distracted and unintentionally drifted into the path of the tractor-trailer,” police said.
No tickets have been issued, but the investigation remains open, police said.
Catone acknowledged there have been complaints over the years about the unusual design of the Route 29-Weibel intersection, with Gilbert Road intersecting less than 100 feet away. That design, however, wasn’t a factor in the accident, Catone said.
“The makeup of that intersection doesn’t have anything to do with what happened out there,” Catone said.