State comes to Saratoga Springs to roll out ads urging drivers to pay attention at wheel

April 09, 2019 07:32 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - It wasn't supposed to be this way for Patrick Mapleson.

The New York State Department of Transportation employee was just seven months from retirement.

"Oh my dad," said Karen Torres, her eyes lighting up as she talks about her father's life.

Those same eyes well with tears as she speaks about his death.

"My sister was there and we just started screaming," describing that day in March 2006 when they were told to rush to the hospital.

Her dad had been working on a pothole crew in Long Island when a cement truck came barreling into the work zone, the driver had reached down to pick up a dropped water bottle.

"And by the time he looked back up, he had crossed over the closed lane and he slammed to the work zone and that's where he hit and killed my father."

Torres told the story Tuesday in Saratoga Springs as the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee rolled out a new campaign targeting distracted driving.

You'll see commercials and billboards soon which will ask parents the question, "What kind of drivers are you raising?"

"We need to do more to ensure that these types of tragedies do not occur," said Ronald Epstein, executive deputy commissioner of the state D.O.T., who noted the campaign to deter distracted driving is personal for him because he's the father of two teenagers.

State, county and local police will be out in force beginning Thursday targeting those of us not focusing on the road.

"The deaths and injuries caused by distracted driving are 100 percent preventable when motorists put down their handheld devices and keep their eyes on the road," said New York State Police Major Robert Patnaude.

Karen Torres hopes the enforcement and the billboards work.

"I am living proof that someone taking their eyes off the road for just a second killed my dad."


Mark Mulholland

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