Driver from July fatal accident due in court in October


PITTSFIELD -- A New York woman accused of causing a crash that killed a motorcyclist last month is scheduled to be in district court in October for a pretrial hearing.

Shannon M. Curtiss, 31, of Stephentown, was trying to make a left turn from North Street onto Springside Avenue about 1 p.m. July 15 when her 2004 Ford Focus was struck by a motorcycle driven by John J. Kenney, 49, of Norman Avenue, Pittsfield.

Kenney, who was riding a 2002 Suzuki VL800, was taken to Berkshire Medical Center, where he died from his injuries a short time later, police said.

Curtiss was not injured in the accident, according to the police probable cause report.

She allegedly told an investigating police officer she could not recall if she had a green left turn signal or if it was a solid green light. She said she waited for several cars to go by, began to turn, heard a horn and was struck on the passenger side of her car, according to the report.

A video recording of the accident, taken by a Berkshire County CRT van that was behind Curtiss, showed that she failed to yield and that her signal was solid green, meaning the motorcycle had the right of way, according to the report.

A witness told police he believed Curtiss had a green turning arrow and that it appeared Kenney had a yellow light, was traveling "at a high rate of speed" and "trying to beat the light."

But the report states that based on later observations by investigators, the witness wouldn’t have had a clear view of the activated signal at the time of the crash.

The case went to a show cause hearing and on Aug. 21, Curtiss was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on charges of misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide by negligence and a violation of failure to yield. She was released on personal recognizance by Judge Michael E. Mulcahy.

She is due back in court Oct. 6 for a pretrial hearing.

A conviction on the vehicular homicide charge carries a minimum mandatory 30-day jail sentence and 15-year license loss. The maximum sentence is 21Ž2 years in jail.

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