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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 7, 2010

Daily dog walk goes tragically awry as woman is killed on Route 20, chasing her pet

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — Lucky, the Pomeranian mix, lives up to his name — he survived a Route 20 accident that killed his owner; now, witnesses of the fatal crash are eager to adopt him.

Jeannie Neumann, 58, who had been living at the Governor’s Inn & Suites at 2505 Western Ave. for the past two months, was walking her dog, Lucky, around 5 p.m. on Dec. 30, when the dog broke away from her, Guilderland police say; Neumann stepped into the road after her dog, and was hit by a semi-truck that had no time to stop.

The truck driver, Guilderland resident Joseph Hatala Jr., is not facing charges, according to Guilderland Police Captain Curtis Cox; alcohol and speed do not appear to be factors, Cox said. Hatala could not be reached for a comment.

Wendy Murray, the owner of Chico’s BBQ, on Western Avenue across from the Governor’s Inn, had often looked across the busy multi-lane thoroughfare, and seen Neumann walking the fluffy little dog down Western Avenue every day.

On the evening of Dec. 30, Murray said she just happened to be in front of the bar window when, despite the darkness, she saw Lucky running in the road, trailing his leash, and then saw Hatala’s yellow truck skid to a stop.

“I saw something fly off of the truck grill. I wasn’t sure what had happened at first, but when I saw the truck back up, I grabbed a CPR kit and ran out there,” Murray said. Another woman had stopped her car, and Murray and the woman tried to resuscitate Neumann.

“She gasped for breath a couple of times, but that was it. She was pretty mangled — her arm bones were sticking out of the skin,” said Murray. She said the Western Turnpike Rescue Squad, and Guilderland Paramedics, arrived on the scene within minutes, and rushed Neumann to Albany Medical Center. Neumann was pronounced dead on arrival, according to a press release from the Guilderland Police Department. Also assisting at the scene were the New York State Police and the Guilderland Fire Department.

“Once the paramedics turned her over, it was clear she had a head injury, and she was gone. Even the truck’s grill had a crack in it,” Murray said.

Lucky cried until Rich Savage, Guilderland’s director of animal services, came and took him to the shelter, said Murray.

Lucky is still at the shelter, according to Bob Meyers, the animal control officer. He said Lucky can’t be put up for adoption until there is a release order from the Guilderland Police Department.

“He’s doing as well as can be expected,” said Meyers. “He’s eating and drinking well, and he’s playful.” Despite media coverage of the accident, no one has called the shelter, asking to adopt the dog, said Meyers.

“He’s a sweet little dog. She saved his life,” said Murray. She said she, along with many patrons of Chico’s BBQ, are just biding their time until the dog is put up for adoption.

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