By Jeanne Sager
LIVINGSTON MANOR October 31, 2006 For the third time in less than two years, the Livingston Manor community is reeling.
Adam Lasky had special permission to take his champagne colored Pontiac Grand Am for a spin on Friday.
Usually kids attending BOCES in Liberty have to ride a bus from the Manor school building.
But Lasky had a day pass to drive his car so he could work on it in auto mechanics class.
And Friday afternoon, he and friend Kelly Lackey were doing the teenager thing as they sped back to the Manor campus.
“You know that time when they just turn the corner, get a little grown up?” asked Superintendent Debra Lynker. “They were there… they were seniors.”
But the New York State Police have tentatively blamed excessive speed for the crash that claimed Lasky’s life Friday afternoon.
Investigator Mike Kelly said Lasky failed to negotiate a lefthand curve on Dahlia Road less than a half mile east of Old Route 17.
The car went off the northside of the roadway over an embankment and became airborne, flying straight into the chimney on Roy Amback’s house 150 some feet past the curve.
Amback had just begun to rise from his chair at the sound of squealing tires to look out the window.
“I was sitting 18 inches from the window… all of a sudden, glass and plaster came raining down on me,” he recalled.
“I heard the tires squealing, but going 80 miles per hour, like 2 seconds later, there was a crash,” he noted.
The sound of Lasky’s Grand Am crumpling into the house was so loud that a fireman who lives a quarter mile down the road had already gotten in his truck and driven down to Amback’s to investigate before the fire whistle went off in town.
The firemen came from Manor and Liberty, along with ambulance workers and the police.
But there was nothing that could be done for Lasky.
The 18-year-old was pronounced dead on the scene by Coroner Elton Harris.
His friend, a passenger in the front seat, was removed from the vehicle after the roof was cut off.
Lackey, a 17-year-old fullback on the Livingston Manor-Roscoe DevilCats, was airlifted by Stat Flight to Albany Medical Center.
Although rumor has circulated town that he’s been paralyzed, Lynker holds out hope that Lackey will regain use of at least his arms.
“He has sensation in his chest,” she said. “We’re praying, we have to keep praying.”
Lackey and Lasky were like “stick and stuck,” said Jennifer Olsen, a Lackey family friend.
Although she’s known Kelly’s mom Lori almost as long as Kelly’s been alive, she said she knew Lasky only by sight.
“I just know him because he was ALWAYS with Kelly,” she said.
As for Kelly, Olsen said he was “wonderful.”
“He’s a good kid,” she said. “He was in the paper all the time for football… both of her boys are good, they’ve been there for their mom; I just think life has dealt them a very sh- - - y turn here.”
Kelly Lackey lost his father, Tony, four years ago.
The family lost their house in the flood in June.
And big brother Adam is serving his country… in Iraq.
“It’s going to be a tough road for the Lackey family,” Lynker said.
But the Livingston Manor community knows how to navigate even the toughest path.
They survived the death two winters ago of senior Trevor Simpson.
They survived the death of 15-year-old Jamie Bertholf in June.
They survived three floods.
They’re pulling together now like they did each time before.
The employees of Peck’s Market have pooled their assets to help the families financially, and there’s talk of a fund being set up.
The student government blood drive at the high school has already been dedicated to Lasky, and Lynker expects the drive will also draw financial donations for a memorial scholarship in the boy’s name.
Counselors have been brought in at both BOCES and the Livingston Manor school to help students and staff cope with the loss.
They’ll be standing by at the Herbert Bryant Funeral Home across the street from the school the funeral home that doubles as an apartment building for the Lackey family, the funeral home that has opened its doors three times in less than two years for a community mourning lives taken too early.
“We’re devastated,” Lynker said, her voice catching. “These are our children too… they were good kids just getting ready to graduate, moving from adolescence into that grown up stage.”
And now, one of them is gone.