Man looking for struck deer is hit and killed

— Photo from the Albany County Sheriff’s Office

The curve that gave the Upper Letter S its name is visible, with the lights of emergency vehicles, behind the truck that hit a man standing near the center of the road, in dark clothes, looking for a deer he’d just hit.

On Thanksgiving eve, just after darkness fell, 74-year-old William S. Kelsey of Berne was navigating the steep “Upper Letter S” curves on the edge of the Helderberg escarpment when he hit a deer, police say.

The sun had set at 4:27 p.m. “It was dark,” said William Rice, chief deputy for the Albany County Sheriff’s Office. “When he struck the deer, he exited his vehicle to look for the deer to see if it was injured.”

Kelsey’s vehicle had front-end damage but was operable, said Rice. “He was wearing dark clothing and was almost in the middle of the roadway,” Rice said, referring to the Delaware Turnpike near Gulf Hill Road.

A 34-year-old New Scotland man came up the hill, driving a red truck east on Delaware Turnpike. “The other driver didn’t see him,” said Rice. After the driver hit Kesley, he stopped his truck. “He called 9-1-1. He was doing CPR,” Rice said, referring to cardiopulmonary resuscitation. “He was devastated. He was crying. He was beside himself.”

Sheriff’s deputies arrived at 5:08 p.m. An Albany County coroner was then called to the scene and pronounced Kelsey dead, said Rice.

Albany County Sheriff’s Emergency Medical Services, Helderberg Ambulance, Berne Fire Department, and Onesquethaw Fire Department also were on the scene.

While the accident is still under investigation, it appears that neither alcohol nor speed were contributing factors, Rice said. “Unfortunately, the speed limit there is 55,” said Rice.

“At that speed, it doesn’t take much to cause damage,” he said. The line of site on both the Upper Letter S and the Lower Letter S, as the curved parts of the Delaware Turnpike are often called, is extremely limited, Rice noted, giving motorists little time to brake or change course when confronted with an obstacle.

Rice cautioned motorists, when they’ve hit a deer or had any kind of accident, to pull out of the roadway. “Stay inside the vehicle. Make sure you are safe. Call for help from there,” he advised.

“It’s rut season,” he said. “The deer are on the run; hunters are chasing them.” Nov. 13 is the average peak day for white-tail rut.

“It seems like everything was against him,” Rice said of Kelsey. “It was dark; he was wearing dark clothes. The road was curvy. … The night before Thanksgiving, this is just a horrible tragedy for everyone.”

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