Greene County man gets 7 to 21 years in prison for drunk driving crash that killed woman

A 36-year-old Greene County man was sentenced on Thursday to 7 to 21 years in prison for driving drunk and killing a woman in a crash last September.

John G. Peterson, of Coxsackie, was convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide and operating a motor vehicle under the combined influence of drugs and alcohol. The charges stemmed from a crash that killed Danielle McKenna on Sept. 24 on Route 9W.

The incident began in Columbia County when Peterson was found unconscious lying in a park. Citizens contacted law enforcement and officers were able to help him regain consciousness. He was impaired by drugs and alcohol. Police brought him to Columbia Memorial Hospital for treatment. However, Peterson signed himself out of the hospital before receiving treatment and got a ride back to his vehicle.

He then drove his vehicle while still under the influence over the Rip Van Winkle Bridge into Greene County. He was seen on Bridge Authority cameras driving close to the back of another vehicle and also driving from side to side on the bridge.

When he crossed the bridge, the vehicle in front of Peterson’s pulled to the side of the road to let him pass. Witnesses say that Peterson’s vehicle was speeding and then crossed a double solid line to pass. Another driver of a southbound vehicle said she pulled over to the shoulder of the road to avoid a head-on collision. He then drove a high rate of speed up to the back of another vehicle and crossed into the southbound lane while crashing head on into a southbound vehicle driven by McKenna.

McKenna suffered severe injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene while Peterson survived the crash.

In a news release Greene County District Attorney Joseph Stanzione called it a “needless, senseless death” and noted the fact Good Samaritans called police to get Peterson help. He refused that help, left the hospital and caused this crash.