AMSTERDAM -- A veteran newspaper carrier for The Daily Gazette and Amsterdam Recorder died early Saturday morning after she was struck by an SUV with a drunk driver, police said. The driver was charged with vehicular manslaughter and other charges.
Christine Rossi, 64, of Amsterdam, was found by Amsterdam police officers in the street in front of the 200 block of Brookside Avenue after police responded to a report of a motor vehicle accident with a pedestrian at 1:10 a.m.
"She was outside of her vehicle, delivering newspapers, when she was struck by a vehicle," Amsterdam Police Detective Joseph Spencer said. "Our first responding officer did approach her while she was down to render aid, and at that time he had no proof of life." Fire personnel also responded.
Officers first on the scene saw debris from the accident. Police said an investigation at the scene revealed that Rossi, her vehicle, and another vehicle were struck by an SUV traveling north on Brookside Avenue, driven by Ronald E. Carpenter, 42, of Amsterdam. Police said Carpenter was the sole occupant of the SUV.
Spencer said Carpenter was arrested after a sobriety test confirmed he was intoxicated.
Carpenter was charged with second-degree vehicular manslaughter, a class D felony, misdemeanor drunk driving, misdemeanor driving while intoxicated with a blood alcohol content greater than .08 percent, and two violations, unsafe lane change and failure to keep right.
Christine Rossi's husband, Gene Rossi, said he was on Locust Avenue in Amsterdam with his stepson Matthew Hollister when the accident occurred. He said he found out about his wife's death when the Amsterdam Police Department called him at 2 a.m.
"What this man did, he took away two young men's mother. He took away my wife," he said. Rossi said he has not gone to the scene.
Carpenter was arraigned in Amsterdam City Court in front of Judge Lisa W. Lorman and sent to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in lieu of $25,000 cash bail or $50,000 bond.
Spencer said he would not comment on whether Carpenter had a prior arrest record before Saturday.
John DeAugustine, publisher and president of The Daily Gazette, issued a statement about the accident Saturday: "Our hearts go out to Chris and her family. This is absolutely tragic, and we’re still trying to understand what happened, but our primary focus is keeping all of our carriers safe."
Gazette Vice President of Audience Brian Zarelli, who is in charge of circulation, said he's worked for the paper for the last 14 years and he's not aware of any other incidents in which a newspaper carrier working for the Gazette was struck by a vehicle.
Zarelli said Christine Rossi worked for the Amsterdam Recorder several years ago and then started working for The Daily Gazette when it began delivering both newspapers.
"Her managers at the Recorder spoke very highly of her," he said.
He said he believes that between the two publications, she had worked as a newspaper carrier for about the last five years.
"She was one of our best carriers out there, one of our most dependable, hard working, always willing to help out, take on extra work," he said.
Gene Rossi said it was typical for he and his wife to split the 730 newspapers they would deliver each day, each taking half.
Rossi said his wife was a born-again Christian who had battled and overcome severe health problems, including cancer. He said
for her to die senselessly after all of the struggles they had overcome together has left him devastated beyond the ability to forgive the man who police say was drunk behind the wheel.
"We went through so much, and for her to go the way she went, because of someone else's careless, selfish, stupid act, is just unbelievable to me. I don't know what I'm going to do right now. My stepsons, they don't know what
they're going to do."