By Susan Monteleone
YULAN January 6, 2006 For two Yulan residents, Monday night was supposed to be about creating special memories of a recent birthday and wedding anniversary, but instead it turned into tragedy.
On January 2, Toni and George Kowski of Yulan headed out to celebrate Toni's birthday and their wedding anniversary. The evening passed without incident until on the way home via Schumacher Pond Road, police said, George lost control of his 2000 Ford full-size pickup.
Around 10 p.m., the truck left the road and rolled down an embankment, landing on its driver's side in a brook and killing Toni instantly, police explained.
The 61-year-old, who was not wearing a seatbelt, died of head injuries, said police.
The Kowskis were the owners of Hickory Haven Lodge in Barryville and the former Reber's Motel on the hill.
According to New York State Police investigators, weather may have played a part in the accident, but they suspect alcohol may have been more the cause.
George Kowski, 61, was subsequently arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and was transported by the American Legion Ambulance Corps to Bon Secours Hospital in Port Jervis, where he was treated for minor injuries and released pending a court appearance.
Police say he may face other charges, and the accident continues to be under investigation.
New York State Police investigators credited the Yulan Fire Department for an outstanding job on the recovery and noted the short response time, despite the snowy conditions.
Yulan Fire Chief James Morabito responded somberly, "This was my first call as chief, and it was one I was hoping would not be my first. The guys did a great job, and they were in the water for a long time. We had to secure the truck before we could do anything.
I was hoping that our New Year would not begin like this it was a tragedy.
American Legion Corps Captain Charles Myers added, "This call was a tough recovery because of where the truck was at. Having the vehicle in the water made it very tough. The crews did an excellent job."
Toni Kowski's funeral will be held this Saturday at Gray-Rasmussen's Funeral Home in Barryville at 8 p.m., with viewings from 2-4 and 7-8 p.m.