Local News

One Dead After Police Chase on Route 281

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Updated 4:35pm 12/29:


Yesterday, December 28th, around 10:15pm the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department attempted to make a traffic stop after an officer witnessed a white SUV go through a red light at the intersection of Route 281 and West Main St. in the Town of Cortlandville.

The driver of the SUV failed to comply and to stop for the officer and proceeded to flee from the officer. When approaching the 281 and I81/Connector both the operator of the SUV and the vehicle the deputy was operating, lost control and crashed, after failing to make a turn onto the connector from Route 281 in the Town of Homer.

Four people were in the SUV that was fleeing from police. A rear seat passenger, 16 year old Salena N. Wallner was pronounced dead at the scene. The three others in the vehicle, the driver, a 15 year old female, a 16 year old female passenger, and another 15 year old female passenger, were all transported to Upstate Medical Center with serious injuries.

The officer involved in the accident sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital.

After the crash had occurred, officials learned the SUV involved in the crash had been reported as stolen from the William George Agency for Children’s Services in Dryden only a few minutes prior to the original attempt to stop the vehicle.

The investigation remains ongoing by the New York State Police and the New York State Attorney General’s Office.


Original Report:

Around 10:30 last night, December 28th, a serious vehicle crash occurred near Route 281 and the I81 Connector just outside the Village of Homer. Emergency responders reported there were four patients, two were unconscious, a helicopter was immediately called as the patients were listed as critical as first responders arrived on scene.

The Homer Fire Department as well as the Cortlandville Fire Department responded to free the trapped occupant in the vehicle. Dryden, Groton, Four-Town and TLC Ambulance assisted on scene. The Cortland County Sheriff’s Department and State Police were already on scene.

Guthrie Air responded to the rear parking lot of the Homer High School to transport one of the patients. State Police closed off Route 281 and the I81/Connector around 11:30 in the evening to conduct a further investigation of the scene. The roadway was not reopened until 5:30am this morning, December 29th.

The investigation is being conducted by New York State Police and is ongoing. This is breaking news. X101 will update as soon as more information is provided.

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