Trio charged in wake of fatal crash

Hera Merritt

Hera Merritt

Joshua Riley

Joshua Riley

Ryan Harrington

Ryan Harrington

On Monday, Sept. 23, Harley Kelly pleaded guilty to drunk driving and manslaughter after a June 9 crash killed her best friend. 

Two days later, on Wednesday, Sept. 25, sheriff’s deputies charged three young adults with unlawfully dealing with a child, because, the sheriff’s office says, they gave the two friends alcohol.

Kelly and her friend who died in the crash, Emily Fydenkevez, were both 19. The legal drinking age in New York State is 21.

“We waited until she took a plea,” said Senior Investigator Hector Fernandez, with the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Albany County Sheriff’s Office, explaining why it took nearly four months to make the arrest.

“When we investigate a fatal accident, we work closely with the assistant district attorney,” Hernandez said.

These three people were each charged with two counts each of unlawfully dealing with a child, a misdemeanor, with a maximum punishment of a year in jail:

— Joshua M. Riley, 25, of Coeymans;

— Ryan P. Harrington, 23, of Troy: and

— Hera T. Merrit, 24, of Watervliet.

Cecilia Walsh, spokeswoman for the Albany County District Attorney’s Office, said she had no information on legal representation for the trio; they won’t be arraigned until Thursday, Oct. 17, in Coeymans Town Court, she said.

Asked how investigators discovered the trio, Hernandez said, “We got it from Harley, through interviews. We had an idea that night.”

He said that Kelly and Fydenkevez, both from Middleburgh, had met them “through social media — Harley and one of the guys.”

“They were invited to a party” at Riley’s home in Coeymans, Hernandez said. 

It was after the party that, at about 2:40 a.m. on June 9, Kelly was driving drunk in the area of Pond Hill Road and Route 10 in Rensselaerville, according to police accounts. Kelly failed to stop at a stop sign and drove off the road at a high rate of speed. The car became airborne before crashing into a large pile of rocks on the side of the road; Fydenkevez was killed upon impact.

Kelly faces three to nine years in state prison when sentenced on Nov. 20.

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