OSWEGO, NY – Friends of the three young men killed in a one-car crash Tuesday night and two other critically injured in the same accident are having difficulty coming to terms with the situation.
The five young men were in a vehicle that crashed into a utility pole at the intersection of East Albany Street and Shampine Drive shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday. All of them are Oswego residents.
Donald M. Odin (the registered owner of the vehicle) and Jeremy W. Tassie were transported to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse where they were treated for injuries and are expected to recover.
The deceased were identified as Robert L. Senke (the driver), Justin M. Purdy and Antonio Mendez. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Preliminary investigation indicates that all occupants of the vehicle had consumed alcohol prior to the crash and that speed may have been a factor.
A friend of the victims disputes reports that alcohol was involved.
“It wasn’t,” she said. “They were just partying and having a good time together.”
“You’ve seen the mock DWI crash (put on during prom-graduation season at area high schools) programs, and you just don’t have … that,” Oswego Fire Chief Jeff McCrobie told Oswego County Today as he gestured toward two young girls hugging as the consoled themselves in front of a makeshift memorial near the crash site on Wednesday morning.
“I’ve seen different motor vehicle accidents. This is the first one I think I’ve seen so many people (who died) in one car,” Oswego Police Captain David Lizotte said Tuesday night. “I don’t know if I could describe (Tuesday’s crash). It’s pretty difficult.”
Renee Ferlito said she is best friends with the victims and “hung out with them all the time. They’re amazing people.”
“They are the best friends I could ever ask for. I don’t know how everybody is going to get through all of this,” she said.
He is at Upstate Hospital right now she said of Tassie, the father of her five-year-old daughter. “Thank God because I don’t know what I’d do without him right now. I’m so happy he’s not like everybody else.”
One of the victims, Purdy, had texted her five minutes before the crash to say he was sorry and to call him when she got out of work, she added.
“When I called he didn’t answer and he didn’t answer again. I kept calling and texting him,” she said sobbing. “I came right up here. And, I just knew when nobody else would say anything that I knew it was him in the car. I will never get to know what he wanted to say or why he was sorry. He was my ex-boyfriend, but he was one of my best friends! He was a big part of my daughter’s life.”
She said her friends would “do anything for anybody.”
“There are so many memories. You just have to remember the good things about them and not all this,” she said. “See them how they were as people and not what everybody saw last night. I just saw all of them within the past week. I can’t believe they’re gone.”
What she will miss the most is their personality, how they cared about everybody, their sense of humor and how much they loved their kids, she said.
A triple fatal accident is not something first responders are used to in the Port City, McCrobie noted.
“It’s tough. It’s tough on our responders; some of them are of the age of some of the people who were involved in the crash whether they knew them or not,” the chief pointed out. “You can train for any kind of incident there is. But you really can’t train for something like this!”
“Justin has a five-year-old, too. Bobby has a bunch of kids and Tony has got two boys,” Ferlito said. “There’s a lot of kids right now that don’t have any dads right now. I don’t even know how to tell them that.”