In the six months since Kim Albanese learned of her mother's and brother's death in an accident on a snow-covered road on Route 98 in Elba, it hasn't stopped hurting, she said today during a stop at the accident scene where she placed some flowers in memory of Teresa M. Norton.
Norton would have turned 54 today.
In the six months since the accident, Albanese has given birth to a daughter. She also suffered the loss of her stepfather, who was the intensive care unit at Strong Memorial Hospital when he learned that his wife of 30 years and son had died.
"It still feels like a nightmare like still trying to put the pieces back together," Albanese said. "It's so hard. It feels like yesterday that they died. I still pick up my phone and go to call her or receive a phone call from her."
Norton and her son Thomas, 22, were northbound on Oak Orchard Road when she lost control of her 2008 Suzuki on a stretch of roadway that was heavily covered by drifting snow. Her Suzuki was broadsided by a pickup truck driven by Jeffrey S. Toussaint, 59, of Albion.
"That accident destroyed three families not just ours, but the guy that hit her," Albanese said. "We feel horrible because he was an innocent party in the whole thing. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. We don't blame him at all."
Given the conditions of the road and the lack of information forthcoming from the Department of Transporation about road conditions at that time, Albanese has retained an attorney, Jon Wilson, of Buffalo.
Wilson confirmed a lawsuit has been filed.
"The State answered and served various discovery demands and we are in the process of responding to those demands," Wilson said.
Albanese said telling her stepfather of his wife's and son's deaths was one of the hardest things she's ever had to do.
The whole process has been difficult.
"You watch it on the news and you're like, 'Oh that stinks for their family. I feel bad. My heart goes out.' But when it happens to your own family -- I lost my whole family in that instant, in that split second -- and I think the hardest part is I got stuck in the detour," Albanese said. "I was just at that light and I could see the tow trucks lights.
"But it was up on the hill, just right where I couldn't see my mom's truck. And I was like 'well, that's good maybe.' People tell me it was a good thing you didn't because I didn't go into labor because I could've had my daughter at 29 weeks pregnant."
Her fiancé, Cory Vanameron, said Albanese is a strong woman to go through what she's gone through. He said he's a bit older, more experience at life, he's been through the death of loved ones before but she doesn't see how she carries on.
"I couldn't do it," he said.
"I had my daughter two months after the accident," Albanese said. "(My mom) never once got to hold her. She never once got to see her. She was so excited to have a granddaughter and now just to look at my daughter, knowing she would never experience my mom, it's heartbreaking."