Teenager dead in Southers Road crash

STOCKPORT—A student at Ichabod Crane High School was killed in a car crash in which driver inexperience and speed were factors, according to Columbia County Sheriff David Harrison Jr., whose office is investigating.
Two other ICC high school students were hurt in the accident.
Nicholas P. VanBenschoten, 16, of Columbiaville died in the crash on Southers Road about a half-mile north of Station Road, September 28 at 11:12 p.m.  
Driving with a Learner’s Permit he obtained 10 days ago, Nicholas was operating a 2001 Daewoo, headed northwest on Southers Road and traveling at an excessive speed, according to the sheriff’s press release.
His vehicle went off the north shoulder of the road, hit a culvert, became airborne and crashed into a large stone pillar at the entrance to a private residential driveway.
The point of impact with the stone pillar was the driver’s door, according to the release.
Allison Shaw, 17, of Valatie and Jeff Beaulieu, 17, of Stuyvesant Falls were passengers in the back seat.
Jeffrey was airlifted by helicopter to the Albany Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition. The Greenport Rescue Squad took Allison to AMC. She was listed in stable condition.
Nicholas and Allison were wearing their seatbelts.
Deputies Michael Stelling and Jeffrey Hofstetter investigated, along with Columbia County Coroner Angelo Nero, who reported that an autopsy revealed the cause of Nicholas’ death to be “a ruptured heart due to high speed vehicle crash.” The coroner said, “Death would have been instantaneous.”
Stockport firefighters and the Sheriff’s Office Incident Scene Investigation Unit also responded to the scene.
According to Ichabod Crane Central School District Superintendent James P. Dexter, Nicholas was a sophomore and Allison and Jeffrey are juniors at the high school.
Mr. Dexter told The Columbia Paper Tuesday, that he was notified of the crash by Sergeant David Bartlett of the Sheriff’s Office, just before students arrived for school Tuesday morning.
He then put the district’s established protocol for dealing with such events in motion. Mr. Dexter said he met with faculty to advise them of the situation and put counselors in place, some of them in Nicholas’ classes, and closed the library to make it available for counseling. A social worker, guidance counselor and school psychologist were brought in from the middle school.
The reality of seeing that “empty seat” in class can be “devastating,” said Mr. Dexter.
With over 700 students in the high school, some students may have been close to Nicholas, others may not have known him at all.
Nicholas attended middle school in the Ichabod Crane District, then for the past two years attended school in Bethlehem. He just recently re-enrolled at ICC a couple of weeks ago, the superintendent said.
“The district is saddened by this tragic loss and offers its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Nicholas. We wish for the speedy recovery of the other two students involved, and will continue to provide assistance to our staff and students affected by this tragedy,” Mr. Dexter said in a press release.
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