Lake Placid Police Chief Bill Moore said he had just come out of a planning meeting for Sunday's Ironman triathlon at the Olympic Center when his radio crackled with a report of a reckless driver heading north on Main Street.
Moore was told the young man, driving a black Ford F-150 pickup truck, had already crashed into a fence, a stone wall and one of the department's electric cars, operated by a village parking enforcement officer.
"He saw (the officer)," Moore told the Enterprise. "This was intentional. He was behind (the officer), and he hit him and pushed him. We were lucky it was one of our younger officers, and he's very spry and was able to come out with minor injuries. Somebody else may not have."
Lake Placid Police Chief Bill Moore
(Enterprise file photo)
(Photo — Lake Placid Police Department)
The driver, later identified as Trevor Sisto, 20, of Fort Covington, then barreled down Main Street in the 2011 pickup "with a complete depravity for human life," going u on the occupied sidewalk and swerving in front of other vehicles, Moore said. The chief said one of his officers, Patrolman Chad Blinn, was off duty and on the street at the time. Blinn had his handheld radio with him, and his personal car was parked nearby, Moore said.
"(Blinn) witnessed (Sisto), as well as others did, driving down the southbound lane going north," the chief said. "People were yelling at him. He got on Saranac Avenue and hit the sidewalk there several times with numerous pedestrians in the area."
The pickup continued down Saranac Avenue, eventually turning into the parking lot at McDonald's, near the intersection with Wesvalley Road. Moore said that's when three kids who were traveling with Sisto - ages 11, 13 and 16 - got out of the truck. He said the three are not from the Tri-Lakes but from elsewhere in Franklin County. Moore said police have interviewed all three, but he wouldn't say any more about what they were doing with Sisto.
"The investigation will show more," Moore said.
The chief said Sisto's truck exited the McDonald's parking lot via a driveway on Wesvalley Road, turning right. It was about that time that Moore was coming down Cummins Road to where it meets Wesvalley.
"I had just turned from Cummins Road onto Wesvalley Road, and he was coming at me at a high rate of speed, right in my lane. I thought he was going to hit me head on," Moore said. "I was thinking, 'Maybe I'll block the lane off, and we'll stop this guy.' I wasn't sure. At that point, we knew that he had an accident but didn't know that he purposely tried to run somebody over."
Moore swerved onto the shoulder and avoided the pickup, which continued to Mill Pond Drive, then turned right. Moore said he turned around and tried to catch up to Sisto. At some point, Blinn caught up and joined in the pursuit.
"(Sisto) went by the firehouse, and those guys said he was headed up Riki Hill (on Old Military Road)," Moore said. "When I saw him last, he was in the opposite lane cresting Riki Hill at a high rate of speed. By then, we were pretty far back. Then the state police tried to stop him."
"We were following toward Ray Brook, and I couldn't see the vehicle. But when I came up upon it, (troopers) already had him in handcuffs and his truck was on fire. We grabbed our fire extinguishers and put it out. I didn't even know he hit another vehicle at that point, and then we saw the other vehicle, and obviously a tragic ending. My heart really goes out to those people."
In the wake of the fatal wreck, some people have questioned whether police should have continued their pursuit of Sisto, suggesting that the story may have had a different ending if they had pulled back. Moore couldn't speak to the state police pursuit, but he said he and Blinn were never very close to the pickup.
"I don't even think he knew we were behind him," Moore said. "On Wesvalley Road, he went by me at such a high rate of speed that I can't believe he didn't crash there. And nobody's behind him. Nobody's chasing him. This is all on his own. I don't think his speed would have stopped if we were right on his rear end or as far back as we were. I don't think it made a difference."