Schuyler woman killed after high speed police pursuit ends in crash


SCHUYLER, N.Y. (WKTV) - State Police say a Schuyler woman has died from injuries she sustained in a crash earlier today. It began as a routine traffic stop in the Village of Herkimer and it ended with a high speed chase and deadly crash.

It was just before 11 a.m. on Thursday morning when Herkimer Police Officer Jody Wheet, a six-year veteran of the department, attempted to pull over Daniel Conklin for driving 39 miles per hour in a 15 mile per hour school zone.

"The vehicle left at a high rate of speed and at some point, a female passenger was pushed from the passenger's side of the vehicle," says NYS Police Captain Mark Lincoln.

At that point, Captain Lincoln says that Wheet didn't know if he was dealing with a kidnapping or any number of serious crimes.

The chase reached speeds of up to 80 miles per hour on Route 5 west-bound, until Conklin's vehicle struck a car turning from Paratore Road onto Route 5.

The two women in that car were taken to Saint Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica. Gail Pietruski, 65, of Schuyler, was air lifted by helicopter to University Hospital in Syracuse where she later died. Her sister, Louise Medallis, of Frankfort, is was in fair condition in St. E's E.R. as of late Thursday afternoon.

Conklin went by helicopter to University Hospital in Syracuse with two broken legs and internal injuries.

The passenger that police say Conklin pushed out of his vehicle was treated for minor injuries.

Captain Lincoln says that Conklin is under guard at the Syracuse hospital and that his parole will likely be violated. He says Conklin faces serious charges when the case goes to a grand jury. Captain Lincoln says Conklin was paroled about a month ago after serving state prison time for criminal possession of stolen property.

Lincoln says Officer Wheet acted accordingly.

"Certainly from what we know so far, the officer had plenty of reason to continue this pursuit. It did reach speeds up to 80 mph. I understand that the traffic was not particularly busy at that time of day and we have a relatively straight stretch of road so based on all the information the officer had at his disposal at that time I see nothing that would suggest that the pursuit was over the top," says Lincoln.

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