GHENT-William Akin, 52, a Ghent firefighter, died following an accident in his pickup truck while on his way to an emergency call Tuesday, October 19 at 9:11 p.m., Columbia County Sheriff David Harrison, Jr. said in a press release.
Investigating Columbia County Coroner Angelo Nero told The Columbia Paper late Wednesday, October 20 following an autopsy at St .Peter’s Hospital in Albany, that Mr. Akin died as a result of medical issues and suffered no trauma as a result of the crash. The exact cause of death will be determined when lab test results are received, said the coroner, who noted that alcohol played no role in the accident.
The accident occurred on State Route 66 at the intersection of Water Street. Driving his 2001 GMC pickup truck, Mr. Akin, who is captain of the department’s fire police, was headed to an accident call a few miles south of Water Street on Route 66. His fire company was dispatched to that location by Columbia County 911.
The original accident turned out to be less serious, according to the sheriff.
Mr. Akin’s truck struck a utility pole just off the highway. Power lines and part of the power pole came down on top of his vehicle.
His fellow Ghent firefighters assisted by Chatham firefighters removed Mr. Akin from his vehicle. The Valatie Rescue Squad took him to Columbia Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Mr. Akin was alone in his vehicle at the time of the accident. No one else was hurt.
Sheriff’s Office investigators do not yet know why Mr. Akin ran off the road in the first place. The possibility of a medical problem is being investigated. Residents in the Ghent/Mellenville area were without electrical power as a result of the accident. New York State Electric and Gas was called in for repairs.
Sheriff Harrison, Captain David Bartlett and Senior Investigator Kevin Skype are among the members of the Sheriff’s Office on scene. The Sheriff’s Office Incident/Accident Scene Investigation Unit was also there.
The state Office of Fire Prevention and Control and Columbia County Fire Coordinator went to the accident scene as well. Coroner Nero is investigating with the Sheriff’s Office and State Police assisted at the scene.
Ghent firefighters were back in service just before midnight.
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