. . thank you, Laura Harrison, for suggesting “moons along the Mohawk”! .
. . passenger exiting
Loud noises with bright colors and lights usually happen on the Mohawk River end of Cucumber Alley, especially with the Jumpin’ Jack’s fireworks before the 4th of July. However, the sounds and lights were at the Washington Avenue end of Cucumber Alley at about 1:15 AM, early Sunday morning (May 7, 2017). I happened to be at my computer a few feet from the window that directly overlooks that corner, when I heard sirens and saw bright, flashing lights coming up Front Street out my bay window, and then heard a large crash just under my corner winder. I grabbed my camera (but didn’t have time to wash a couple decades of dirt from the outside of my 2nd floor apartment window), and got the images you can see throughout this post and the Slideshow below.
Of course, snapping photos did not get me the scoop on what had happened. And, officers with guns drawn and excessive use of expletives did not seem to be encouraging inquiries from curious neighbors. The Gazette now has the story online as of Monday afternoon, and did me the honor of using a photo I took during the arrests. See “Police: Car chase starts in Glenville, ends in Stockade” (Brett Samuels, May 7, 2017) According to Glenville Police Chief Steve Janik:
“The car traveled down Freemans Bridge Road, across the river and into Schenectady, where it turned in to the Rivers Casino entrance, wove through the parking lot and ended up going down Front Street into the Stockade, Janik said. It sped through multiple stop signs and intersections before striking a street sign at the corner of Washington Avenue and Cucumber Alley”
. . above: initial approach of officers to the stopped vehicle . .
“Schenectady police arrived to assist, and, in photos taken by a resident [the editor of this weblog, David Giacalone] who lives near the site of the crash, officers can be seen approaching the vehicle with guns drawn. The driver exited with her pants dropped.
. . driver exits with dropped pants
“’At the conclusion of a pursuit, it is not uncommon for officers to be at full guard because of the stakes involved, not knowing whether the person is armed or has committed a serious crime,’ Janik said.
“Officers were able to reach the vehicle’s owner and learned the car was stolen from her driveway in Saratoga County, Janik said.”
The Gazette goes on to state that police arrested Stacey Lincoln Dressel, 36, from Greenfield Center, charging her with 14 violations and misdemeanors, including reckless driving, fleeing a police officer, criminal possession of a controlled substance and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. “The passenger, Philip M. Girard, 28, also of Greenfield Center, was also arrested and charged with possession of stolen property.” [see mug shots at the right]
Ms. Dressel, the woman with her pants dropped in the photo above, came out the passenger side of the rear seats, so the officers and I did not realize at first that she had been the driver. So, in the photo to the left, you can see them approaching the driver’s door demanding, with more expletives, that the driver exit the vehicle, after Ms. Dressel was already arrested.
Why Were Her Pants Dropped and Why Did Ms. Dressel Exit from the Rear Passenger Door? I can only speculate. The driver’s door was partially open, but may have been jammed due to damage from the collision. With a larger person in the front passenger seat, getting out through the rear seat makes sense. Or, perhaps, Ms. Dressel did not want to appear to be the driver. My women friends are amazed that Ms. Dressel could have been driving with her pants off or down to her ankles. Maybe there was a reason she did not want to have the pants on when confronted by the police officers, but their insistence that she hurry got her out the door before the pants were fully off.
update: The Times Union covered the story in their Tuesday edition, repeating the incorrect information about the vehicle striking a street sign. “Pursuit ends with crash in Schenectady” (by Amanda Fries, online May 9, 2017) It also calls it a “½-mile pursuit”, when in fact the very closest point of Maple Avenue in Glenville, where it meets Freeman’s Bridge Road, is at least two miles from the corner of Cucumber Alley and Washington Avenue. (see Google Map, and image to left) The TU article did further explain the felony possession of stolen property charge: “the vehicle Dressel was driving was not her own and the owner hadn’t given either Dressel or Girard permission to use the car.” Neighbors at the scene tell me they heard a police officer mention that the vehicle belonged to Ms. Dressel’s mother.
What Did They Hit? (updated, Tuesday evening, May 9 & Wed. am May 10, 2017): Despite the report by the Glenville police, there is no way the chased vehicle hit the street sign at Washington Avenue, which is straight and unblemished, and too flimsy to withstand such a collision. Both myself and my downstairs neighbor were certain, just minutes after the crash, that we had seen the SUV hit the corner hydrant from our respective corner windows (which we were attracted to by the sound of the approaching sirens and the bright lights coming up Front Street). And, we both marveled at the time that the hydrant was still standing tall, with no sign of a collision (as you can see from the photo to the right, taken after daylight Sunday morning). However, in the morning light, I also noticed that there is a large scar at the base of the tree nearest the corner, with a large chunk of bark skinned off. My next hypothesis, that perhaps the vehicle careened off the hydrant into the tree, seems unlikely due to their placement. So, the evidence seems to say that the chased Honda CRX lost control coming onto Washington Avenue and hit the tree in front of 18 Washington Avenue. It is very rare for there to be no vehicle parked in that spot at night, so the tree was especially useful stopping a crash into the building at what is know as Caine Row.
. . here is a collage of photos “at the end of the chase” (click on it to enlarge) . .
- Safe Chase? The more I consider it, the more certain I am that conditions were not suitable for a car chase, which should have been called off quickly after it started: Roads were rain-slick; it was dark with glare caused by the headlights and light-bars; drivers on the road were more likely than usual to have been drinking, since it was late on a Saturday night; and the fugitive vehicle was moving at a high speed even before the Glenville police gave chase. Moreover, it turned into Mohawk Harbor, which was likely to have Casino customers in the parking area. Finally, the chase went down Front Street, which is too narrow in daylight for easy two-way traffic, and is lined with some of the City’s highest density residential blocks, as it switches between two-way and one-way blocks and passes through a small traffic circle. The final block of the chase then went the wrong way down a one-way stretch of Front Street, which ended at a blind corner, where the SUV was not able to handle the turn. The space along the curb where the chase ended is virtually never empty at night, and that was one piece of good luck for all, including the police officers — who were overexcited and repeatedly yelling the f-word by the end of the chase — and who need to justify their questionable chase.
- I can’t say there is never a dull moment in the Stockade, but my delayed bedtime Saturday night suggests we do at times have some excitement on the “city” end of Cucumber Alley.
follow-up (July 31, 2017): A disturbing incident in Glenville over this weekend, where police killed a man who (purportedly) had a knife, and a Glenville police officer was wounded by “friendly fire” amidst the chaos, makes me again wonder about the professionalism of Glenville police officers. See, e.g., from the Albany Times Union, “Brother of slain Shen teacher says suicide likely” and “Shen teacher killed, Glenville officer shot“. The photo to the right was not posted by me the night of the car chase described above, because of its poor quality and my lack of information as to what was happening. It is blurry, snapped quickly through a dirty window screen, but it shows a Glenville police officer holding the vehicle driver down, on the wet pavement in the rain, about 45 minutes after she calmly surrendered herself to them. I do not know what precipitated the particular police tactic. I should have asked more questions at the time.
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