By Ted Waddell
FORESTBURGH June 29, 2004 The third time around allegedly stealing a vehicle Thursday night or early Friday morning was the unlucky one for 17-year-old Edward Belcher of Port Jervis.
According to the Sullivan County Sheriffs Department, three teenagers decided to steal a pickup truck, a car and finally a 1994 Volvo with its keys left in the ignition from the Fallsburg area.
During the course of the short-lived crime spree, the pickup and car were damaged but later recovered by authorities in the wake of being abandoned by the car thieves.
Around 6:30 a.m. on Friday, the Sheriff's Department received a 911 call from an eyewitness that the stolen Volvo driven by Belcher had just crashed into a tree along State Route 42 near the blinking light intersection with Forestburgh Road in the Town of Forestburgh.
"Belcher was driving south on 42 when he came around a small curve on the wrong lane, and [apparently saw] an oncoming vehicle and panicked," said Detective Don Starner, one of the investigating officers at the scene of the accident.
"He went into a spin, through a stone wall, then sheared off a telephone pole, flipped, broke down two trees and came to rest on a third [tree]," added Det. Starner.
"There was no question speed was involved," said Starner.
Belcher was treated at the scene by MobileMedic emergency medical services personnel, assisted by volunteer firefighters from Monticello and Forestburgh.
The victim was air-evacuated by a Life Flight helicopter to Community Medical Center in Scranton, Pa.
Belcher was pronounced dead on arrival. Toxicological tests on the deceased will be performed at the Lackawanna County Coroner's Office.
The investigation is continuing.
Det. Starner said that authorities were advised by the Town of Fallsburg Police Department that the Volvo was stolen and believed to be involved in the rash of stolen vehicles during that short span of time.
Based upon the ongoing investigation by the local Sheriff's Department and Fallsburg PD, three individuals were subsequently arrested.
Daniel Jaycox, 19, of South Fallsburg. He was charged with criminal sale of marijuana in the 5th degree because "he admitted to supplying the victim" with the controlled substance. Jaycox was released on an appearance ticket for the alleged misdemeanor offense.
Steven Mann, 22, of South Fallsburg. He was charged with one count of grand larceny in the 4th degree and three counts of unlawfully dealing with a child (supplying alcohol to the deceased as well as two other underage youth involved with the incident).
Ronald Ford, 16, of Liberty. He was charged with one count of grand larceny in the 4th degree.
Mann and Ford were arraigned before Town of Fallsburg Justice Bart Rasnick and remanded without bail to the Sullivan County Jail. Both were scheduled to appear in court yesterday afternoon.
"He was a young man and an experienced driver who we believe panicked," said Det. Starner of Belcher. "Speed, alcohol and marijuana contributed to his death."
But why did a bunch of teenagers decide to steal a string of cars? Why did one of them die in a mangled wreck?
"My understanding is that they were bored and didn't have anything to do," said Det. Starner.