One a homicide, one an accidental death as different officials rule in Ray Brook collision that killed Potsdam parents and severely injured daughter
Saturday, July 26, 2014 - 10:09 am

After autopsies Friday, both people from Potsdam killed in a vehicle collision in Ray Brook Thursday were determined to have died from blunt-force trauma consistent with a motor vehicle collision, according to state police.

One was ruled to have died because of homicide, while the other was ruled to have died as a result of an accident.

James E. Barney, 42, was driving a 2009 Honda Fit, and his wife, Kim Barney, 38, died as a result of the collision with a vehicle driven by a Fort Covington man who was allegedly feeling police. Their daughter, Emily Colby, 11, a rear seat passenger, was air-lifted from the scene to Fletcher-Allen where she underwent surgery for multiple injuries and was listed in critical condition late Thursday, police said.

The collision occurred on State Route 86 in the town of North Elba in Essex County as police chased another driver at high speed, after the driver, Trevor J. Sisto, 20 of Fort Covington, allegedly fled as police pursued.

Different doctors performed the autopsies in different locations, and the conclusions reached were different, in that one death was ruled a homicide and the other an accident.

James Barney was pronounced dead at the scene by Essex County Coroner Francis Whitelaw. An autopsy, conducted at AMC Saranac Lake by Dr. C. Francis Varga, who determined the cause of death to be “blunt force trauma consistent with a motor vehicle collision. Coroner Whitelaw ruled the manner of death to be homicide.

Front seat passenger Kim Barney, 38, was transported to Adirondack Medical Center, Saranac Lake, and later air-lifted to Fletcher-Allen Medical Center in Burlington, Vt. where she died of her injuries. The autopsy at Fletcher-Allen by Dr, Steven L. Shapiro, Vermont Chief Medical Examiner, also determined the cause of death to be “blunt force trauma consistent with a motor vehicle collision,” but in this case, Shapiro ruled the manner of death to be accidental.

Sisto was charged was charged by state police Friday with first-degree unlawfully fleeing a police officer, driving while ability impaired by drugs, reckless driving, failure to keep right, and speeding.

Police in Lake Placid, where the string of incidents reportedly began, have charged Sisto with first-degree attempted assault, reckless endangerment, three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, leaving the scene of a personal injury motor vehicle accident, reckless driving, numerous vehicle and traffic violations.

Sisto was arraigned at the Village of Lake Placid Court and at the Town of North Elba Court and was sent to Essex County Jail in lieu of $100,000 cash bail or $200,000 bond and is scheduled to reappear on July 29 at 4 p.m.

Lake Placid Police Department contacted state police around 1:30 p.m. Thursday to request assistance in locating a 2011 Ford F-150 that had been involved in a hit-and-run collision within the village of Lake Placid, according to police.

Troopers soon located truck traveling west on State Route 86, at what they said was “a high rate of speed.”

They attempted to stop the vehicle but as the truck approached Ray Brook it entered the eastbound lane and collided at about 2 p.m. with the other vehicle that was traveling east.

Both vehicles then went off the north side of the highway where they came to rest, police said.

Sisto was the sole occupant of the Ford F-150 and was immediately taken into custody at the scene by state police.

The Barneys were trapped and had to be extricated by Lake Placid and Saranac Lake Fire and Rescue personnel, police said.

The accident is still under investigation by troopers, Lake Placid Police and the Essex County District Attorney.

Further charges against Sisto are pending.