Driver in Rensselaerville crash charged with manslaughter of friend

— Enterprise file photo

A car driven by Harley A. Kelly crashed into a pile of rocks on the other side of an intersection in Rensselaerville in June, killing Emily Fydenkevez. 

RENSSELAERVILLE — Harley A. Kelly, a 19-year-old from Middleburgh, was arraigned in Rensselaerville Town Court Monday night, and charged with manslaughter.

Kelly was the driver in a June car crash that killed 19-year-old Emily Fydenkevez, also of Middleburgh. They were said to be best friends.

A crowd of around 30 people was waiting outside the Rensselaerville Town Hall for court to begin. When they finally were allowed inside, they poured into the courtroom; at one point, the bailiff had to stop people from entering.

“There’s not enough room, I’m sorry,” he said.

Some in the crowd were friends or related to Fydenkevez; others were the family or friends of Kelly. Several people had known both of the young women.

Candice Arney was in the courtroom with her two daughters, who had known both Kelly and Fydenkevez. She said that on the night of the crash she had been planning a trip for the group of friends.

“I wish I could let Harley know I’m there for her,” said Arney’s daughter Rachel after the hearing, looking at the ground while holding back tears. She added that she also wished she could see Fydenkevez again.

Kelly had been Rachel’s first friend after moving to the area in 2015, Arney told The Enterprise on Tuesday. The two graduated from Middleburgh High School in 2017; Fydenkevez graduated the following year.

“And Harley and Emily, they were always together … ,” said Arney. “They were very close.”

Kelly, dressed in a black suit with her hair pulled into a tight bun and using crutches, was arraigned before Judge Muriel Frasher. She was charged with second-degree manslaughter and second-degree vehicular manslaughter, both felonies; driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor; as well as additional vehicle and traffic violations, according to Assistant District Attorney Mary Tanner-Richter, the bureau chief of the Vehicular Crimes Unit in the Albany County District Attorney’s office.

Tanner-Richter said that Kelly’s injury was unrelated to the crash.

Kelly was remanded to Albany County’s jail with bail set at $50,000. Should she make bail, she will be released under the supervision of a probation officer. The case will go before a grand jury in Albany County Court at a later date, said Richter.

In June, police reported that Kelly and Fydenkevez had been driving in the early morning hours on June 9 up Pond Hill Road toward the intersection with Route 10 when Kelly failed to stop at a stop sign. The car crashed into a pile of rocks on the other side of the intersection.

Neither of the teenagers were wearing seatbelts; but, while the driver-side airbag deployed, the passenger-side airbag did not, police said. Fydenkevez was sitting in the passenger seat at the front of the vehicle. First responders found Fydenkevez unresponsive, not breathing, and unable to be revived, and she died at the scene of the accident; Kelly appeared to be drunk and had non-life-threatening injuries.

According to the Middleburgh Central School District’s website, Fydenkevez, a 2018 graduate, was fourth in her graduating class and achieved numerous awards. She planned on attending Empire State College to study environmental engineering after graduation, according to the district’s website.

Arney said she did not want to speak on behalf of either young women’s families, but said that both Kelly and Fydenkevez had been involved in many community efforts in the tight-knit village and school district.

“I never thought it would be them,” she said, of being in a crash.


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