Man charged in Route 5 crash that killed Frankfort woman

By WKTV News

HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - The man that authorities say is responsible for a high-speed chase in late May that ended in the death of a 65 year old woman from Frankfort has now been officially charged.

According to Herkimer County Court officials, Daniel Conklin was arraigned on a sealed indictment stemming from the May 24 fatal crash on Route 5 in Schuyler.

Appearing in Herkimer County Court on Monday, Conklin, 24, was arraigned on second-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault, two counts of first-degree unlawfully fleeing from police, two counts of second-degree fleeing from police, second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and various vehicle and traffic laws.

Released from prison in April for a charge of possessing stolen property, Conklin has been held in the Herkimer County Jail on a parole violation ever since the May 25 crash.

It was on that day that authorities say Conklin, driving on West German Street in the Village of Herkimer, sped through a school zone near Herkimer High School and refused to stop when Herkimer Police attempted to pull him over. As he fled from pursuing police, authorities said Conklin got into a fight with Rebecca Mento, a passenger in the front seat of the car, pushing her out of the vehicle as it sped away.

Speeds reached in excess of 80 mph and the original pursuing officer eventually decided it was time to back away from the chase and, in fact, was far enough behind the suspect vehicle that he was not involved in the eventual crash. Additional police officers had been alerted and were preparing to use 'stop sticks' to puncture the suspect vehicle's tires and stop the chase as it progressed from Herkimer and over Route 5 into Schuyler.

The chase came to an end when an SUV being driven by Gail Pietruska, 65, of Frankfort, was turning off of Paratore Road and onto Route 5. Authorities say Conklin's vehicle struck Pietruska's vehicle in the driver's side, causing it to end up on its side. Pietruska had to be extricated from the vehicle and was transported to St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica. She was later transferred to Upstate Medical Center where she died. Louise Medallis, 54, who was a passenger in Pietruska's vehicle was taken to St. Elizabeth Medical Center for back injuries.

Conklin is being held in the Herkimer County Jail without bail and has a pre-trial hearing scheduled for August 29.

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