Records: Teen Driver Behind Wheel in Crash That Killed 5 Was Driving Illegally

Published June 29, 2007

| Associated Press

State records show the driver in the crash that killed her and four teenage friends in western New York had only a junior driver's license, which made it illegal for her to be driving at that hour or carrying so many young passengers in her vehicle.

Bailey Goodman, 17, had a Class DJ license, which places added restrictions on the privileges for New York drivers under 18, authorities told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

Goodman and four other recent graduates of Fairport High School in suburban Rochester, all 17 or 18, died when the sport utility vehicle she was driving collided head-on with a tractor-trailer in the Finger Lakes region of New York on Tuesday at about 10 p.m. That was an hour later than state law permitted her to drive.

According to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, junior drivers cannot drive after 9 p.m. without a parent, guardian or someone performing parental duties, unless they're going to work or school. They also cannot carry more than two passengers under 21 unless they're members of the immediate family.

Drivers graduate from junior status when they turn 18 or complete a state-approved driver education course.

DMV spokesman Ken Brown confirmed Thursday that Goodman had a Class DJ license.

Ontario County Sheriff's Lt. Bill Gallagher said he was aware Goodman was a junior driver, and that will be looked at as part of the investigation.

Witnesses said Goodman was driving east when she passed a van by crossing into the westbound lane of the two-lane highway. She returned to the eastbound lane, but for some reason swerved back into oncoming traffic.

"At this point in time, it looks like human error," Gallagher said. "The investigation is not finished but we have been able to eliminate some factors."

Gallagher said the driver and a passenger in the van told investigators they were traveling at the 55 mph speed limit when Goodman's vehicle passed them, and the tractor-trailer driver tried avoid the collision. He said there were no obvious roadway hazards or malfunctions in the 2005 Chevy Trailblazer.

Also killed were 17-year-old Meredith McClure and 18-year-olds Sara Monnat, Hannah Congdon and Katherine "Katie" Shirley. They were headed to a sleep-over at a cottage along Keuka Lake owned by Goodman's parents, said Keisha Koneski a friend who was following with four other girls in another vehicle.

A family friend said Goodman's parents were not ready to talk about their daughter's role in the accident.

Brown also confirmed that Brian Sayasith, 17, of North Chili outside Rochester, driver in a one-car crash that killed him and two other teens about 10 p.m. on May 27 in Chili, also had a junior license. Two more young passengers were seriously injured.

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