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    Twice in a week

    By John McIntyre,

    • Clifton Park man charged for second fatal crash in the same spot in less than a year

    • Two more head-on crashes since May 1 deadly crash.

    DELMAR – On June 7 an Albany County Grand Jury indicted a 28-year-old Clifton Park man for allegedly causing the death of Shawna Marzahl of Selkirk after a fiery crash on Route 85 last month.

    Matthew Monthie, 28, of Clifton Park, turned himself in at the Bethlehem Police Department on the six-count indictment that was unsealed in Albany County Court at 9 a.m. for the May 1 crash near the Albany City line.

    He was charged with manslaughter – second degree, assault – second degree, vehicular manslaughter – second degree, all felonies, and DWI, DWAI – combination alcohol and drugs, and reckless endangerment – second degree, all misdemeanors.

    Bail was set at the hearing by Albany County Judge William Little at $50,000 cash or bond or $75,000 partially secured bond. A bond official was present at the hearing to arrange release.
    Matthew Monthie turned himself into the Police on June 7th.

    The judge also ordered Monthie to wear an electronic monitoring device.

    Monthie was released on the partially secured bond.

    According to the indictment, Monthie is accused of “driving at excessive speed, failing to maintain his lane of travel, after having consumed a significant amount of cannabis and alcohol.”

    His BAC was in excess of .08 percent from a blood test taken the day of the crash, the indictment read.

    On May 1, witnesses said that Monthie was traveling at speeds near 100 mph on Route 85 where it narrows from four lanes to two near the City line with Albany. The final crash investigation report by the Albany County Crash Team is not yet available, but the initial accident report was listed as traveling at “an unsafe speed.”

    According to the accident report, Monthie’s Subaru WRX drifted into oncoming traffic.  After missing several cars, he hit a Ford Escape driven by Marzahl. Both vehicles caught fire and a number of good samaritans pulled both out of the burning vehicles before fire departments from Albany, North Bethlehem and Slingerland arrived to extinguish the flames.
    Shawna Marzahl

    Marzahl died at the scene, Bethlehem police said, and Monthie was taken to Albany Medical Center Hospital with what was later described as serious injuries. He submitted to a blood toxicology test at the hospital.

    A third vehicle, driven by a Slingerlands man sustained windshield and front end damage from flying debris from the crash. That vehicle was directly behind Marzahl’s, the accident report said.

    Monthie will next appear in court on July 9 for a compliance conference.

    He is represented by Stephen Coffey, of O’Connell & Aronowitz.

    The Road

    The stretch of Route 85, a State highway, where the May 1 accident and another fatal accident killing 17-year-old Michael Kleinke in 2023 occurred, is very unique because it starts as a four lane road at I-90 in Albany, but narrows to two lanes as it crosses the Thruway.

    For people who travel the road, they know the reduction is coming and often jockey for an advance position before the bridge. The road is two lanes for approximately 1.4 miles and turns back to four lanes at the roundabout at Blessing Road.

    The original project that installed the four roundabouts on Route 85, did not include making the stretch four lanes, but in subsequent years the New York State Department of Transportation did widen the shoulders as what appeared to be a preparation for the expansion. DOT said then that the section would be addressed in another phase of the project at a later time.

    When Times Union columnist Chris Churchill contacted DOT May 4 to ask about the 2007 road project, DOT responded  “As Wednesday’s tragic incident along State Route 85 in the Town of Bethlehem is the subject of a police investigation, we cannot comment further at this time.”

    Statistics from Bethlehem police reveal that the road has had many collisions, but most are from vehicle striking animals.

    Spotlight News reviewed crash reports from the Town of Bethlehem Between October 2008 and May 2024 and, not counting the two after May 1, over 450 crashes occurred on that stretch of Route 85.  Since 1982, there have been six involving fatal head-on collisions.  Five of those accidents took place within 200 feet of the thruway bridge and were alcohol or drug related crashes.  Most of the 450 crashes involved hitting animals. In 26 crashes there were injuries that required EMS.

    More crashes since

    Since the May 1 crash, there have been two additional head-on crashes on Route 85, both alcohol related.

    On May 26, on the two-lane section,two people were charged with DWI, one involved in the crash and another was a witness to it.

    According to police and accident reports, at approximately 9:49 p.m., Lendell Moore, 27, of Slingerlands, was driving west (from Albany) on Route 85 when his gray 2008 Chevy Malibu crossed the double yellow lines into oncoming traffic.

    A second car was hit head on and caught on fire. The occupants of that vehicle were not injured. Moore sustained cuts and had bleeding from the crash, reports said. A witness, Freddie Perelez, 28, of Albany, following in the car behind Moore, stopped, was interviewed, and observed with slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and had an odor of alcohol emanating from his breath.  He failed a field sobriety test and was taken into custody.

    Moore  was charged with DWI and other traffic violations and Perelez was charged with DWI, a misdemeanor.

    Just over a week later, on June 4 at approximately 9:58 p.m., according to the accident report, a motorcycle driven by an Albany man crossed the centerline near Couse Lane, in Slingerlands, and struck an SUV coming in the opposite direction. The motorcycle driver did not have a license to drive one and charges and tickets are pending the outcome of blood toxicology tests.

    The motorcycle driver was severely injured in the crash and the other driver was also injured. Both were taken to Albany Medical Center Hospital.

    Spotlight News has observed an increased police enforcement on the road in the last few weeks.

    The post Twice in a week first appeared on Spotlight News .

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