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.

More Hilltowns News

  • A state audit has revealed that Knox Town Clerk Traci Schanz failed to deposit more than 300 fee collections within the legally required timeframes and made reporting errors that left the town with an unremitted cash balance of more than $3,000, according to a report from the Office of the New York State Comptroller. Schanz said she is grateful for what she learned from the audit and new procedures have been put in place.

  • Lee Thomas inspired the Black Lives Matter rally

    About 140 people gathered for a peaceful, home-grown Black Lives Matter rally in Berne on Sunday. Most of them listened to speeches in the park pavilion while two dozen stayed near their motorcycles and pickup trucks on the edge of the parking lot — several saying they saw themselves as protectors since they view the BLM movement as destructive.

  • A Black Lives Matter rally planned by Berne resident Laurie Searl has drawn strong criticism on Facebook, leaving some would-be attendants worried about a counter-protest that could turn violent, as has happened both locally and across the country.

The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.