While helping out a driver with a flat tire on the Northway in Wilton, a New York State Police cruiser was sideswiped by a AAA Northway registered tow truck, according to authorities.
Trooper Gary Strothenke was parked on the shoulder of the southbound lanes Tuesday afternoon around 3:45 p.m. when the tow truck sideswiped the cruiser and then hit the vehicle with the flat tire, driven by Rachel Palmer, 23, of Ballston Lake. The man changing the tire, Ryan Geleta, 23, of Clifton Park, managed to scramble out of the way, police said. Strothenke escaped with minor injuries.
Galeta showed up in his truck to help Palmer and she sat in his truck while he worked on the tire, authorities said.
Both the trooper and the truck driver, Berakah Smith of Wilton/Gansevoort Road, were treated for minor injuries and released from Saratoga hospital. Smith was ticketed. Two of the highway's three southbound lanes were closed for six hours after the crash.
Strothenke was in his Trooper car behind both vehicles with his emergency lights going and some flares set up, but authorities say Smith drifted toward the right shoulder and he lost control and veered right striking Palmer’s vehicle. Geleta was alerted by the sound of the cruiser being struck just before it hit Palmer’s car.
The tow truck then went off of the highway, down an embankment and into a wooded area where it stopped.