GABRIELS — A three-car accident on Route 86 claimed the life of Jay resident Joseph H. Kowalik Jr.
He died from blunt force trauma, a postmortem on Friday found.
The collision occurred on icy roads as snow moved through the northern Adirondacks at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, according to Paul Smiths-Gabriels Volunteer Fire Department personnel.
The accident happened about a mile west of the Gabriels hamlet center, between the former Camp Gabriels prison entrance and the St. Regis Restaurant in the Town of Brighton.
"Right before that curve," Paul Smiths-Gabriels Second Assistant Fire Chief Ted Palmer told the Press-Republican. "The roads were very, very icy."
Firefighter Steve Tucker, who helped coordinate traffic at the accident site, confirmed the road was slick.
"We had a whiteout just before that — one of those squalls came in and glazed the road. It's very slippery there in that spot."
State Police said Kowalik, 53, was driving a 2003 Kia, headed west, when Sheri Eaton, 38, of Malone, heading east, lost control on the ice-covered Route 86 roadway.
The 2002 Saturn that Eaton was driving crossed the center line and hit Kowalik's car head-on.
A third car, driven by Pamela Blaney, also from Jay and a friend of Kowalik's, was following in a Nissan pickup truck that struck the Kia from behind.
"Blaney was unable to avoid striking the rear of Kowalik's vehicle," police said in a press release.
Blaney was not injured in the collision.
But Eaton was taken by ambulance to Adirondack Medical Center, where she was treated and later released.
"Kowalik was transported by Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, where he was pronounced deceased by Dr. Frank Nocilla at 6:16 p.m.," police said Friday.
Jay Town Supervisor Randy Douglas did not know Kowalik personally.
"This is another unfortunate incident in our town," he said. "My thoughts and prayers go out to their families."
Palmer said 14 Paul Smiths-Gabriels firefighters responded with two trucks.
Assistance was provided by emergency medical personnel, firefighters and heavy-rescue equipment from Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department.
St. Regis Falls Volunteer Fire Department responded with three personnel and an ambulance.
Franklin County Coroner Ronald Keough ordered the autopsy that was performed at AMC in Saranac Lake by Dr. C. Francis Varga.
The blunt force trauma that caused Kowalik's death was consistent with a motor vehicle accident, Varga said in State Police press release.
Manner of death was pending further investigation and a ruling from the coroner's ruling, State Police said.
The Franklin County District Attorney's Office and the Troop B Collision Reconstruction Unit continued investigating the cause of the accident on Friday.
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