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April 27, 2015 - 2:10pm

Dash cam video shows three-vehicle accident on Thruway in Batavia

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, thruway.

Kiran Thapa

This video of a three-vehicle accident last Tuesday on the Thruway going through Batavia already has more than 230,000 views and has drawn more than 400 comments.

The driver of the Camaro was charged with DWI.

Kiran Thapa, 32, of Columbus, Ohio, was allegedly driving with a BAC of .19. He was also charged with aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st, a Class E felony.  

Thapa was arraigned in Town of Batavia Court and jailed on $2,500 bail or $5,000 bond.

A spokesman for Troop T had no further information available on the accident at this time.

Ted Wenzka
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Viewed the video. Sorry to say but the pick-up had some to do with the accident. Pick-up was just hanging in the passing lane. Looks to me like the pick-up driver wanted to tick the Camero driver off. Road rage for the pick-up driver.

Gale Conn-Wright
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I agree, Ted. Maybe the pickup driver was trying to make a point of some kind but it kind of backfired.

Raymond Richardson
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Both drivers should be charged with vehicular assault against the truck driver, who is doing nothing but earning a paycheck to feed his/her family.

Too much aggressive driving on the NYST, my wife and I see it all the time when we're on the thruway.

Bob Price
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Pickup driver should get ticket for impeding traffic-no reason for them to hang in passing lane-there was nobody in front of them. Good thing it wasn't the tanker truck that was a little further behind that was in accident-I couldn't tell what his haz-mat sign said. This same thing happened to my sister a month or so ago on Thruway-no accident,but it was 2 semis-one was blocking passing lane for 25 miles-she wasn't a happy camper.....

Ed Hartgrove
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Ted, and Gale. I agree that the pickup had some(thing) to do with this accident. But, not for the reason you pointed out.
As for the pickup "just hanging in the passing lane", I disagree. He was passing the 'tractor-trailers'.
Now, if you watch closely, there is a vehicle IN FRONT of the pickup, thereby (somewhat) impeding his ability to get out of the situation quickly. With the view that we have from the dashcam, personally, I believe the pickup was not a 'safe & reasonable' distance behind the lead vehicle (which is usually described as a 'minimum' distance of 3-seconds-behind - when I took drivers-ed, they taught 1 car-length/per/10mph). Had a deer dashed in front of the lead vehicle, and that driver slammed his brakes on, I don't believe there was any way the pickup driver would've been able to react in time to avoid a rearend collision.

Same goes for the 'dashcam vehicle'. At one point, the pickup, the Camaro, AND the 'dashcam vehicle' are in a space equal to not-much-more than the length of the tractor-trailer. THAT'S not a safe or reasonable distance. Especially at thruway speeds (which, granted, we don't know how fast the vehicles were going).

Wisely (or, maybe just luckily), the driver of the 'dashcam vehicle' adjusted his following distance right before the accident. Otherwise, he, too, might've found himself pickin' some of his own vehicle parts off the roadway.

From http://www.smartmotorist.com/traffic-and-safety-guideline/maintain-a-saf... , a 'safe following distance' for vehicles going 65mph is @ 288-feet (or, approx. THREE tractor-trailer lengths) - ALMOST a football field's length. These drivers were, what, 20/25 feet apart?
Nope, I saw several unsafe practices at play here.

Ed Hartgrove
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Sorry, Bob, but there WAS a vehicle in front of the pickup. What would you have him do - bump the lead vehicles rear bumper, to get him to move?
Better go back and rewatch the video -look carefully - there IS a vehicle in front of the pickup.

Gary Spencer
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The Cameron driver is 100% at fault!! He was obviously driving very aggressively from the second he came into the frame? He crosses the solid yellow line multiple times, and finally passed (or attempted to pass) by crossing the solid yellow line, in essence creating his very own passing lane!! Dumb Ass!!

Dave Olsen
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Nope, watch the video again, there was a car ahead of the pickup at first, but there was nothing there when the accident happened. It sped off at some point, but then the driver of the pickup was blocking the dumb-ass in the Camaro. I see this kind of nonsense all the time.

Ed Hartgrove
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Yep, you are right, Dave. I completely missed the disappearance of the lead vehicle.
Which raises some interesting questions (speculation).
If, indeed, the vehicles in the video were traveling at 'usual' thruway speeds (60-70 mph), how fast must've the 'lead' vehicle been going to be completely out of the picture, in such a short period of time? A hundred?

Ed Hartgrove
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Bob. My apology, sir. As Dave Olsen rightly pointed out, at the time of the accident, the vehicle in front of the pickup had apparently sped away.

As for the "no reason for them to hang in passing lane" comment, that is open to speculation.
If the speed limit is 65, the pickup truck has no obligation to go above that limit. Doesn't matter what the guy behind him wants.

Now, there are those out there that'll claim that the non-speeder is creating a hazard. Bullshit! The hazard is created when someone wants to make their own speed limits, and, when following someone that's OBEYING the speed limit, they try to intimidate/push the legal driver into breaking the law. THAT, in my estimation, is attempted vehicular assault.

My motto is, if I'm driving within 1-2mph of the posted limit (above, OR below), and someone doesn't like it, TOO BAD!
'Cause, I know that, should I get a speeding ticket for trying to 'get out of your way', you're not gonna pay my fine or accrue my 'points'.

In NYS, it IS a violation to speed, even if you're just trying to get by someone as fast as you possibly can.

Let the down-votes begin.

Bob Price
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I thought that at first too Ed that someone was in front of pickup-there was,but we can't tell by shadows due to direction change when that vehicle went far enough ahead of the pickup-I'm going to guess somewhere by the college. I hope that drunk also gets a ticket for a brake light being out(drivers side). I see it when I travel on Thruway also-I go to pass somebody,then the vehicle I'm trying to pass speeds up ever so slightly,I'm governed then I have to back off and get behind the idiot again.

Don Patterson
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Sorry Ed, you're wrong here. The law in NYS is quite clear; you are obligated to keep right, except while passing. No mention of the speed limit, or the speed of the vehicles involved, it's keep right except while passing. Now, you can claim that the pick up driver was passing, but driving along the tractor for 1 minute and 29 seconds does not constitute passing; it constitutes impeding traffic flow and the individual should have received a ticket for the same. I the fellow in the Camaro wasn't drunk, I bet he would have. Also, please note that at the beginning of the video, the driver of the Camaro attempts to move left into the passing lane in front of the pickup, but the driver of the pickup appears to speed up and block the lane for him. This is a classic example of two idiots who both have issues.

Scott Ogle
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Scott's First Rule of Highway Survival:

Maintain the maximum distance from all vehicles on the roadway at all times. Maintain right of way when practicable; contest nothing.

Ed Hartgrove
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I may be wrong, Don. Wouldn't be the 1st time.
I don't HAVE to claim that the pickup was passing. It's obvious, to me, that he was in the left-hand (passing) lane, he had previously just passed the 1st semi, had caught up to, and began to, pass the 2nd one. He was passing.

Assuming that (most) of the vehicles were running at approx. the speed limit, it would seem that the Camaro driver had just passed the SUV, switched lanes to the right-hand lane after passing the suv (to speed past the dashcam vehicle), and quite quickly came up behind the 'tanker'. There, it looks as though he may have thought about SQUEEZING his vehicle into the small space between the pickup and the lead vehicle, but decided there wasn't enough room.
As for the guy in the pickup, he might have not even noticed the Camaro until he almost got sideswiped by it, wherein he pulled quickly to the left & then 'corrected' himself. As for staying in the passing lane for 1-minute, 29-seconds, we have no idea when the lead vehicle (in front of the pickup) sped out of the pickup's way. If that lead vehicle was right there for most of the 1:29, the pickup driver has little choice but to wait.

Does it LOOK like the pickup driver was possibly trying to 'hassle' the Camaro driver? If I had to guess, I'd say "yes". But, I can't definitively say that's true. Don't know.

As I said in an earlier comment, I saw several bad driving practices exhibited.

And, finally, here's a gem from the NY gov website http://dmv.ny.gov/about-dmv/chapter-6-passing#bei-pas , that I'm gonna guess 99.9% of drivers either didn't know (or just don't do).

"Being Passed"
If another vehicle passes you on the left, decrease speed slightly and keep to the right. When the vehicle has safely passed and is ahead of you, continue your normal speed. 

In other words, no matter what speed you are running, if you are in the right-hand lane, and someone begins to pass you on the left, you are supposed to slow down (slightly), and wait until they have completely passed you, before you resume your speed. WHO DOES THAT?

Beth Kinsley
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The driver of the pickup truck was being an ass. The driver of the Camaro was a complete idiot.

Ed Hartgrove
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Hi, BA!
How's things?

Adam Riexinger
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There are many facts to this story that are not present in both the video and the write up that many of the new outlets have been presenting. For one, this erratic driving of the Camaro was witnessed for over 30 miles from the other side of Rochester. The driver was actually coming from Syracuse so it potentially may have been happening as far as that. There are accounts of this driver getting behind cars and actually coming so close to the car in front that you could barely stick a stack of papers between the two.

There were also a half a dozen calls to 911 reporting this car as driving erratically and causing dangerous traveling conditions in that distance from Rochester to Batavia. You guys are all ridiculing the pickup driver slowing down and creating a road rage incident. Did you ever think of the fact that maybe he was on the phone with 911 and was using the semi to slow the driver down so that troopers could catch up with this guy. I understand there was an accident but we all clearly saw the video and it was most certainly the DRUNK DRIVER'S fault.

Another thing you don't see on the video is what happens after the wreck. After the Camaro spun out into the right hand ditch he came flying out onto the road way and crashed into the center barrier as an attempt to flee back eastbound. That's when a bunch of vehicles actually boxed him in to make sure he couldn't leave the scene.

Jason Crater
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Adam - that's useful information. thanks for the input.

Frank Bartholomew
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The guy in the camero is drunk, he is being agressive, dangerous and stupid all at the same time. He bears full responsibility for this wreck.

Cheryl Saville
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Thanks Adam - for posting the additional information.

Jim Urtel Jr
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Wow Frank, you and I agree for once! Who says it couldn`t happen? LOL

Scott Ogle
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And the guy driving the video-cam answers his phone just as the wreck occurs. God really does look out for idiots, it seems.

Kyle Couchman
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Really Scott? Can you see the phone in his hand? Or the earpiece in his ear? Handsfree headsets are so cheap and common nowadays that there's no way to tell for sure. Great job once again on making assumptions.

As for the drivers, even without the additional info, the drunk driver who also had no license is clearly at fault. Most drivers I know both professional and day to day drivers dread this scenario. Absolutely nothing that can be done except hold on and pray that you can walk away. All the expereince and years of good driving can't protect you from fools like the driver of the camero.

Scott Ogle
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"Great job once again on making assumptions."

Assumptions? Are you disputing the driver answered his phone, Kyle? Or merely extrapolating something from what I never said?

Jason Crater
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Kyle - While I generally agree with you, the driver of the pick up truck could have EASILY removed himself from the situation by passing the 18 wheeler and getting into the right lane.

Kyle Couchman
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Except Jason as pointed out earlier, there was a vehicle ahead of him that prevented him from doing so. Also for all we know the pickup driver may have been on the phone with police and trying to slow him down as well to be apprehended.

As Adam pointed out there is alot more to the story than what we see.

Scott... what is your problem? He answered his phone before the wreck occurred not as it was happening? Whats wrong with answering a phone when driving? As long as he had a handsfree device?

Jason Crater
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There was a vehicle ahead of him at the outset. Once he slowed down to stay side by side w/ the big rig that vehicle left them all in the dust.

Jason Crater
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Even if he was on the phone with the cops, he had no business trying to slow the guy down. He is not a cop.

Scott Ogle
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"Scott... what is your problem?"

I'm not sure what you mean, Kyle.

"He answered his phone before the wreck occurred not as it was happening?"

So what?

"Whats wrong with answering a phone when driving?"

What's wrong is it's an unnecessary distraction. Done with a legal format or not, people have trouble enough driving safely without multi-tasking of any kind.

joe miano
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FYI if you have a Bluetooth radio like the the car taking the video when a call comes in the radio stops and the phone rings . Watch the video and listen as soon as the phone rings you stop hearing the radio and as soon as he hangs up the radio comes back on.

david spaulding
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I've watched this video thirty times and I have come to the conclusion that it is Kyle's fault. I am assuming again.............ha ha ha ha

Brian Graz
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If the Camaro driver had been reported as far back as 30 miles, why weren't the police able to catch up with him? Perhaps the 911 callers should have reported someone texting, or not wearing their seat-belt instead of driving erratically, this probably would have gotten a better response.

The the Camaro's driver, 32-year-old Kiran Thapa, was arrested and charged with Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated and Aggravated Unlicensed Operation Motor Vehicle. I wondered if he's an illegal alien too?

Although the Camaro driver was unquestionably at fault, it was obvious that the pickup was an antagonist and driving unsafely too. Everyone seems to have missed the fact that when the Camaro entered the picture the stretch of Thruway was where it makes a fairly notable incline between the Rt33 underpass and GCC and the semi trucks would have slowed appreciably due to it. When the Camaro first tried to merge in front of the pickup it was obvious that the pickup sped up to block it, and then easily passed the first semi, caught up with the second one and then slowed pickup stayed at the same speed as the semi while obviously the vehicle that was initially in front of the pickup had progressed almost out of sight down the road by the time of the crash. I would bet the vehicle in front of the pickup was traveling the usual 70-75mph Thruway speed, and the distance it had progressed on ahead would show how slow the pickup was actually traveling. Only morons on the interstates get in the left lane and drive 55-60 mph.

The responsibility of all drivers is to avoid and mitigate any potentially dangerous situation on the highway... not aggravate it.

Ed Glow
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Your conclusions on the speed of the traffic in relationship to the "rock cut" are spot on Brian, practically word for word what I said out loud the first time I saw that video! The person driving that pickup should be shouldering a good portion of the blame for being the instigator of this road rage incident and I'm not buying for one second that they were doing anything along the lines of being a "Good Samaritan". I'd even go as far as betting they flipped the Camaro driver off when he passed them!

For the hell of it I did my own independent poll yesterday and less than half of the people I spoke with during the day even knew there's a state law to keep right except to pass in NY. Many other states have signs posted along their four lane highways stating exactly that and I've often wondered why NY doesn't have them. Of course, all laws are useless unless they're enforced, but I was surprised how many people didn't even know the law existed.

Raymond Richardson
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"Many other states have signs posted along their four lane highways stating exactly that and I've often wondered why NY doesn't have them"

Those signs are all along the NYS Thruway, from Buffalo to NYC.

Brian Graz
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You are right on Ed. I remember this law going back to the days when I was learning to drive. Funny how many things we learned during driver training that nowadays drivers appear to be clueless about, and as you already said... the laws are not enforced.

I'm just glad the trucker had a smooth, level area where he went off the highway.

This is not taken from the NYS statute, but I'd say it would be applicable in most any state. "On a road, street, or highway having two or more lanes allowing movement in the same direction, a driver may not continue to operate a motor vehicle in the furthermost left-hand lane if the driver knows or reasonably should know that he or she is being overtaken in that lane from the rear by a motor vehicle traveling at a higher rate of speed."

There is no doubt in my observation that the Camaro driver was the main fault in this event. But the pickup driver definitely contributed to causing the crash... that guy in the Camaro is damn lucky the semi truck didn't run right over him. Of course that would have kept him from ever being a drunken, unlicensed driver again.

Ed Glow
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Brian... does mentioning the name Mr. Bebout cause a flashback and a smile?

Raymond... perhaps you could provide me with just one milepost you've seen a sign on the NYS Thruway that reads "State Law - Keep Right Except To Pass"? I've seen signs stating "Slower Traffic Keep Right" and "Trucks Under 40 MPH Use Flashers" on the steeper inclines that cause trucks to slow down significantly, but I don't recall seeing any stating it's a state law to keep right except to pass. Being a professional tractor-trailer driver for over 20 years with a designated route between Rochester & Boston twice a week for several of those years I could tell you what milepost the larger potholes were at, so I'd be interested to know where at least one of those signs are located. I'm no longer a professional driver, but I still travel the Thruway between Batavia & Albany frequently and I'll make a point to look for it next time.

Thanks in advance Raymond!

Raymond Richardson
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Ed, the signs are black lettering on a white background, KEEP RIGHT EXCEPT TO PASS. They don't say STATE LAW on them, but they are out there. I can't give you exit mile marker where they are, but there is one between the Le Roy & Batavia exits, one a few miles west of Buffalo, and they're along the east & west bound thruway to Albany, and down I-87 south to NYC.

You'll find them on the left shoulder, not the right one.

Brian Graz
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Ed... I would have never recalled Mr Bebout even if someone was to ask who my driver instructor was. Wow what a blast from the past.

Isn't it interesting how we kind of agreed on my 1st comment, and yet you end up with +2 thumbs-up, and I end up with -2 thumbs-ups... ???

Ed Glow
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Maybe the up votes for me were about my "independent poll" Brian?

Glad I blasted your past and I'd bet you also enjoyed some fond memories right after that name hit you too. Many good times were had in those seats!

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