Westchester County Executive Candidate tells police implausible story that he was “temporarily blinded by the sun” as he approached intersection before crash, declines to answer questions citing potential litigation.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- New York State Senator George Latimer, the Democratic Party Nominee for Westchester County Executive, was involved in a serious, previously undisclosed car crash in New Rochelle over the summer in the midst of his Primary Campaign against County Legislator Ken Jenkins.
Latimer was not driving his own vehicle. The Jeep was registered to Andrew G. Genna, 56, of White Plains, NY. New York State Senate Records list Genna as Director of Community Outreach for George Latimer.
Citing a concern over pending litigation, Latimer declined to answer such questions as why he was not drivng his own car, why he was driving a Jeep owned by his Community Outreach Director, and why he was driving along Wilmot Road in New Rochelle in such a rush at 5 p.m. on a Friday, among others.
The collision involved a Registered Nurse living in New Rochelle who Latimer fears may file a lawsuit.
The incident was hushed up at New Rochelle City Hall until a reader tip sparked a Talk of the Sound investigation which turned up a police incident report last week.
Reached for comment over the weekend, Latimer was combative.
“I know you'd love to chop me up if you can,” Latimer said in response to questions from Talk of the Sound. ““I wasn't drinking, I wasn't speeding, I didn't get a ticket,” said Latimer. “She hit me.”
Latimer added “The police report says all these things, which you have.”
The police report, which Talk of the Sound does have, does not say any of these things but does state that Latimer gave an implausible statement to police in which he effectively admits fault.
The incident occurred shortly before 5 p.m. on Friday July 21st when Latimer, 63, of Rye, NY. was driving Westbound on Wilmot Road in New Rochelle near the Scarsdale border. The other driver, Mallesha Malcolm, 32 of New Rochelle, NY, told police the light was green when she entered the intersection. Latimer told police that he was traveling Westbound on Wilmot Road going straight ahead when “he became temporarily blinded by the sun” and “couldn’t see the color of the traffic light” and then, he told police, “he entered the intersection”.
According to the police report, the car he was driving was damaged in the front-left panel after colliding with another vehicle entering the intersection. From police records and a site inspection it appears Latimer swerved right then left, crossing over a double-yellow line into the Eastbound lane of Wilmot Road, then leaving the road entirely, crashing into a backyard fence along the roadway and striking a tree where the vehicle came to a stop. The impact was powerful enough to splinter the fence into pieces and peel the bark off the tree, suggesting Latimer may have been speeding as he drove through the red light.
Neither driver was cited for a traffic violation. No drugs or alcohol were involved. The police did not dispatch an accident investigator to the scene so there are no photos attached to the police report.
Malcolm, the driver of the other vehicle, told police that she was traveling North Bound on Grand Boulevard in her 2015 Honda, going straight ahead through a green light, when her Honda was struck by the vehicle driven by George Latimer.
Attempts to reach Malcolm were unsuccessful.
Malcolm complained to police of right knee pain. Latimer complained to police of left arm and side pain. Both parties refused medical treatment at the scene, according to police.
Latimer was driving a 2015 Jeep which police records show was damaged in the front-left panel and the front of the vehicle.
Both vehicles were towed from the scene by Safeway Towing, according to the police report.
The collision occurred in the Assembly District of Amy Paulin and County Legislator District of Sheila Marcotte, and within the City of New Rochelle where Noam Bramson, a former County Executive candidate himself, is Mayor.
Marcotte, Paulin and Bramson all say they were unaware of the incident until recently, after Talk of the Sound began reporting on the story and making Freedom of Information requests from the New Rochelle Police Department.
“I have heard nothing”, said Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88). "I am hopeful no one was seriously hurt."
"Hadn't heard anything about it.” said Westchester County Legislator Sheila Marcotte (District 10 - Eastchester, Tuckahoe, New Rochelle). “I am on that road almost everyday, a very busy street. I hope there were no serious injuries".
“I don't have any additional information about this incident,” said New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson., adding that he “was not aware of it until a couple of days ago.”
“My first time hearing of this,” said New Rochelle Council Member Jared Rice (District 3) who has been involved in the Latimer campaign in New Rochelle. “There's nothing for me to contribute.”
County Legislator Ken Jenkins said he was aware of the traffic incident during his campaign for the Democrat Nomination for Westchester County Executive.
“George told me about an accident back in July,” said Jenkins, who defended Latimer.
"There was no speeding, and no running of Red Lights. No Dishonesty," said Jenkins. "The police report is public record and shows no blame."
Asked if he had seen the police report, Jenkins replied “ I didn’t ask about details”.
“This sounds so much like the Venus Williams scenario,” continued Jenkins, referencing a fatal car crash in Florida on June 9 crash that killed Jerome Barson, 78, and badly injured Linda Barson. his wife. Venus Williams was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Palm Beach Gardens (Florida) Police Department but now faces a wrongful death lawsuit. Lawyers for the plaintiff have alleged Williams was “distracted” and have demanded Williams turn over her mobile phone records.
Latimer’s claim that he was “temporarily blinded” by the sun so that he could not see the color of the traffic light and then entered into the intersection is implausible. Even if it were plausible, the “sun glare” excuse is rarely an acceptable defense in a traffic collision.
Records from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, show that Sunset was at 8:21 p.m. on July 21, 2017. Data tables from the Astronomical Applications Department of the U.S. Naval Observatory show that at 5 p.m. on July 21st, 2015 the sun was at an altitude of 35.9 degrees and an azimuth of 266 degrees.
Traffic lights in New York State are typically hung about 16 feet above the road surface, according to New York State Department of Transportation records.
Using some basic trigonometry, the right-triangle formed by the three points — the traffic light, the point on the roadway directly below the traffic light and the oncoming vehicle and that for the sun to be behind the traffic light when at an altitude of 35.9 degrees, the vehicle would be about 21 feet away from the point directly below the traffic light.
A site visit to the intersection of Wilmot Road and Grand Boulevard shows that a spot 21 feet east of the point directly below the traffic light is still within the intersection so Latimer could not have been “temporarily blinded by the sun” when he looked up at the traffic light and "then entered the intersection". He would have already been in the intersection at the time the sun would be directly behind the traffic light. This assumes that the vehicle driven by Latimer had no roof; if the vehicle had a roof then the traffic light would have been blocked altogether from his point of view.
Making Latimer’s account even more implausible, is the approach to the traffic light at Grand Boulevard when traveling West Bound on Wilmot Road.
The traffic light is first visible to a driver heading west on Wilmot Road from about .2 miles away, according to Google Maps. At that point, according to a contour map of the area by the United States Geological Survey the roadway surface drops about 35 feet from the point from the point along Wilmot Road where the traffic light is first visible to the point directly under the traffic light. Adding another 5 feet for an average adult male seated in an SUV and at the point the traffic light first came into view for Latimer, his line of sight was about 40 feet above the roadway surface at the intersection of Grand Boulevard and Wilmot Road, or about 24 feet above a traffic light hanging 16 above the roadway surface. In the last 300 feet, the roadway drops quickly so that as Latimer was approaching the intersection his vehicle would be pointed down, not level, and certainly not up.
Replicating Latimer’s vantage point in a similar vehicle, starting back more than .2 miles, at no point in the approach is the backdrop to the traffic light above the horizon. It is well below the horizon, so that the backdrop is a combination of the roadway surface and green trees and bushes which line the woods around the neighborhood which is named, fittingly, Wilmot Woods.
Put simply, astronomical data, trigonometry, photographs and a live demonstration all prove that it would be impossible for the sun to be in the eyes of a driver, approaching the intersection, looking at the traffic light at the intersection of Wilmot Road and Grand Boulevard on July 21, 2017 or or about 5 p.m.
The damaged fence, still not repaired as of today, and still marked off with yellow police caution tape, runs along the back edge of the property at 2 Bonnie Meadow Road, a few doors down from 48 Bonnie Meadow Road, the former home of comedian Carl Reiner and the setting for 148 Bonnie Meadow Road, the fictional setting of the home of Rob and Laura Petrie played by Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore on the Dick Van Dyke Show which ran on CBS from 1961 to 1966.
The residents of 2 Bonnie Meadow Road declined to comment for this article.