June 21, 2014

Ithacans Rally Together After ‘Tragic’ Downtown Accident

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By SOFIA HU

Ithacans are rallying together to support those affected by the tractor-trailer accident that killed one woman, injured at least seven and destroyed a building on the Ithaca Commons Friday afternoon.

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At approximately 4:09 Friday, a runaway tractor-trailer crashed into the building that housed Simeon’s Resturant on the east-end of the Ithaca Commons. With concerns that the building would collapse if crews immediately removed the trailer, workers began to demolish parts of the building before removing the trailer last night.

Amanda Bush, 27, died when the tractor-trailer barreled into the building, according to police. Bush, a Lansing native, was a bartender at Simeon’s.

Resturant and business owners have reached out to Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 looking for ways to support the families of those involved in the crash, according to Myrick. In addition, more details about potential fundraisers and other efforts will be released later.

“Our community rallied together,” said Tom Parsons ’82, fire chief of the Ithaca Fire Department. “This will be a long recovery for people.”

‘One of the Worst Incidents’

Immediately after the collision, a small fire broke out in the cab portion of the truck, according to Ithaca Police Department Chief John Barber.

Police officers and firefihters evacuated nearby buildings and established a perimeter of one square block around the scene.

Barber identified the driver of the truck as 37-year-old Viacheslav Grychanyi, from Spokane, Washington. He was driving a commercial truck for Autostar Transport.

IPD gave Grychanyi two tickets for over-length and inadequate braking system. Eyewitnesses said the trailer-truck was moving at approximately 40 to 50 miles per hour during the crash.

“[Police Chief Barber] has been here a long time, and this is one of the worst incidents that he has seen,” said IPD officer Jamie Williamson..

Five people were treated for injuries on scene and transported by Bangs to a local medical center, according to police. Two others transported themselves to a hospital.

The Aftermath

In the aftermath of the collision, Ithacans have raised questions about the crash and how it may have been prevented. Myrick said the city will look into what legal and physical barriers can be used to prevent such accidents in the future.

“When things go wrong like this, it’s only natural to ask questions,” Myrick said. “I think those questions are fair.”

The truck skimmed the barrier in front of the Commons, according to Myrick. There were three construction workers in the Commons at the time of the collision, and the driver of the trailer-truck may have turned right in order to avoid them.

Later Saturday, a structural engineer will evaluate whether the building is safe and how it can be repaired, Myrick said. The cost and timeline of rebuilding is yet unknown.

The devastation of the building — which has stood at the corner of Aurora St. and East State St. since 1872 — is “tragic” given its geographical and cultural significance to Ithaca, Myrick said.

“This is the heart of our city. It’s the most popular corner,” Myrick said. “Why this is so jarring is because any Ithacan could have been standing there.”

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