BRUSHTON — A horrific crash on Route 11 Thursday morning claimed the lives of six area people — including four from one family — rocking the Brushton-Moira community.
According to State Police, Janet Dana, 69; her daughter-in-law, Laurie Dana, 42; Laurie’s two daughters, Caitlyn, 14, and Lauren, 11; and Caitlyn’s best friend, Shannon Planty, 14, were killed when a tractor-trailer crashed into a line of cars on Route 11 in Antwerp near the St. Lawrence and Jefferson County line around 9 a.m.
“This is just a horrible loss for our community,” Franklin County Legislator Suzanne M. Robideau (R-District 5, Brushton) said.
“All we can do is pray.”
Janet Dana was from the Brushton area, as was Planty. Laurie Dana, a special-education speech teacher at St. Lawrence Central Elementary School, and her daughters, lived in Lawrence in St. Lawrence County.
Maryann D. Gregory, 59, of Dickinson Center in Franklin County also died from injuries suffered in the crash.
The accident occurred as a line of cars was slowing down or stopped for paving work that was being done on Route 11 just south of Dickson Road. A 2012 Volvo tractor-trailer driven by James A. Mills, 45, of Myerstown, Pa., was coming up on the line of stopped cars and apparently was unable to stop in time.
Reports said the tractor-trailer hit a 2007 Subaru Forester, which was propelled into a New York State Department of Transportation pickup truck, which then hit a 2012 Toyota RAV4.
The RAV4 was being driven by Laurie Dana, and her mother-in-law, her daughters and Planty were passengers.
The vehicle caught fire, and all five were reportedly killed instantly.
Gregory was driving the Subaru, and she suffered massive injuries and later died at E.J. Noble Hospital in Gouverneur, according to police.
The driver of the DOT pickup truck, Lewis L. Lottie Jr., 44, of Nicholville, was taken by helicopter to Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, where he was listed in critical condition with massive chest and head injuries.
Mills, the driver of the tractor-trailer, was taken to Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown for treatment. He was being tested for drugs and alcohol, as required by state law.
He was hauling a load of yogurt from North Country Dairy in North Lawrence.
Janet Dana was a retired English teacher at Brushton-Moira High School.
“Everybody knew her,” Robideau said. “The phone has been ringing off the hook all day. Everyone is calling.”
The Danas run a farm on Route 11. Robideau said she visited Janet’s husband, Donald, after hearing the awful news.
“He is just devastated. He lost so much of his family,” she said.
PARADE TO GO ON
Janet was a founding member of the Moira Historical Association and was a Heritage Day Committee member. She was instrumental in organizing the 13th-annual Heritage Day parade, which is scheduled for Saturday, July 28.
Robideau said she talked with other members of the committee, and all agreed that the parade will go on.
“We weren’t sure what to do, but we know that Janet would have said, ‘You are doing this,’ so we will go forward and be strong and do this for her,” Robideau said.
The impact of the accident has jolted the Brushton-Moira community.
“It’s just devastating for everyone,” Robideau said.
“I guess we are not supposed to know why things like this happen.”
Email Joe LoTemplio: firstname.lastname@example.org