A moment's inattention leads to death on the Thruway

On Friday, a New York corrections officer was killed on the Thruway north of Kingston in a collision caused by a driver briefly taking her eyes off the road.

According to a press release issued by the State Police, a woman driving northbound sideswiped a Department of Correctional Services van while she was adjusting the heat in her car. The collision sent both vehicles off the right shoulder and down the embankment, and the van overturned.

Fifty-two-year-old Casimiro Pomales, who worked as a CO at the Eastern Correctional Facility in Napanoch, died. Other passengers and drivers largely escaped unharmed, according to the press release and follow-up coverage in outlets like the Daily Freeman and the Times Herald-Record.

Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a special statement paying tribute to Pomales:

"I was deeply saddened to learn of Correction Officer Casimiro Pomales' tragic death in an automobile accident while in the line of duty today. For more than twenty years Officer Pomales served the people of New York, and I extend my heartfelt condolences to his wife Dorothea and their children, as well as his friends, and coworkers at Eastern Correctional Facility."

Governor Cuomo ordered that flags on all state office buildings will be flown at half-staff in Officer Pomales' honor.

For the full press release, see below:

On January 28, 2011 New York State Police Troop T investigated a fatal motorvehicle accident at mile post 94.2 north bound on the New York State Thruway. A New York State Department of Correctional Services van was north bound in the driving lane occupied by 2 correctional officers and one inmate. A passenger car was north bound in the passing lane when the driver took her eyes off the road to adjust the heat, and moved unsafely to the driving lane striking the corrections van. Both vehicles travelled off the right shoulder and down the embankment, and the van overturned. The driver of the van was transported to Kingston City Hospital where he was pronounced deceased. The passenger and inmate were treated for minor injuries. The driver and passenger from the car were not injured. Further investigation into the accident is being conducted by the Troop F accident reconstruction unit. Notification of next of kin was made by NYSDOCS employee assistance program.