OSWEGO, NY – Armed with candles, flowers and even a bottle of alcohol hundreds turned out Wednesday night to the scene of a triple fatal accident to remember their friends who died the night before.
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. 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.
To view Mendez’s obituary, go here http://oswegocountytoday.com/?p=89334
To view Purdy’s obituary, go here http://oswegocountytoday.com/?p=89328
To view Senke’s obituary, go here http://oswegocountytoday.com/?p=89326
The crowd started out small around 7 p.m. Participants joined hands in a semi-circle around a shrine of flowers, balloons and candles while they prayed and honored their friends’ memories.
The crowd continued to grow. By 9 p.m., there was an estimated 400 mourners.
Several city police officers kept an eye on the crowd and directed traffic at the Shampine Drive – East Albany Street intersection. At times the throng spilled into the road and had to be reminded by police to move back onto the grass.
“They were too young, just too young to leave,” one young man said. “They were great guys; they will never be forgotten.”
One of the mourners was overcome with grief and an ambulance had to come and assist.
Some around the memorial drank from a bottle of brandy and poured some of its contents around the site. The actions drew applause from the crowd.
Chris Bucher went to high school with some of the victims
“It shows that communities like this can really pull together when something like this happens. It says that as sad as it that it happened, we all care, we can all pull together to help each other,” he said of the gathering. “This really shows that Oswego is a close-knit family.”
For Bucher, the message Wednesday night was simple.
“It’s been a common phrase for years, don’t drink and drive,” Bucher said. “This teaches us even more – don’t drink and drive.
The investigation into the crash is continuing.
Police believe that speed and alcohol were contributing factors.