NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Drag racing was likely to blame for a spectacular and deadly crash overnight on the Saw Mill River Parkway in Dobbs Ferry Wednesday morning, police said.
As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, charges were expected Wednesday in connection with the crash that killed Christopher Seguinot, 21.
A crumpled mass of metal was pulled from the wooded area next to the Saw Mill River Parkway earlier in the day. It bore scant resemblance to the picture of a red Chevrolet Camaro that Seguinot posted to his Facebook page.
It was around midnight when Westchester County police said an officer spotted two motorists driving slowly on the northbound side of the parkway.
“Each (was) side by side, moving at a slow rate of speed and effectively obstructing the roadway,” said Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth. “The officer, believing this action to be indicative of the conduct of an unlawful speed contest or drag race, proceeded to pass these vehicles and investigate.”
That was when the officer saw the Camaro and a Dodge Challenger speeding away, Longworth said.
“The officer lost sight of them in a relatively short period of time,” he said, adding that the officer was “not engaged in a pursuit.”
After about two miles, police said Seguinot got off the parkway at exit 17 in Dobbs Ferry and blew through the intersection at the top of the exit ramp, hitting a concrete and steel barrier on the Ashford Avenue Bridge at over 80 mph.
It was as if Seguinot expected another exit ramp to be where the fence was, Young reported.
“The railing that is above the ground is welded to the plates, and the plates are bolted to the concrete structure,” said Westchester County Transportation Commissioner Jay Pisco. “In normal circumstances, it’s designed to keep cars from going off the bridge.”
The car then plunged about 20 to 30 feet and landed in a wooded area off the shoulder of the parkway, police said. Seguinot, of West Harrison, was killed. Police said he was alone in the car.
As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported, there were temporary barriers in place late Wednesday where the fencing used to be.
His death was a crushing blow to those who knew him.
“He was a wonderful kid – wonderful,” said family friend Sal Adler.
Meanwhile, a witness, Brandon Neider, of Yonkers, admitted that he and his Dodge Challenger were on the road for the race. Police believe his car was one of the vehicles blocking traffic so the race could take place.
But Neider denied it was an organized event.
“The cops are trying to push onto me like this was a planned race and everything else,” Neider said. “I don’t even know what was going on.”
Police said the two drivers who were apparently racing knew each other. Seguinot’s family did not want to talk on camera, but did not contest the police version of events.
Ironically, family members said Seguinot was a criminal justice major who hoped to be a New York state trooper.
Police said they know the identity of all the drivers involved. They said dashboard cameras from squad cars at the scene confirmed the likelihood of a drag race. They plan to use those videos during their investigation.
Longworth said it remained under investigation whether the other alleged drag racer was partially responsible for Seguinot’s death.
The bridge was closed as inspectors checked it for damage. The northbound lanes of the parkway at Lawrence Street were also closed for a time.
Hours after the crash, pieces of the Camaro could still be seen high in the trees at the scene.
Police said flatly that they expected multiple charges to be filed in the case.
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