An evening dedicated to the memory of those who sacrificed for our country was marred by tragedy on May 22, as a Glenville woman was struck and killed by a minivan while marching in the annual Scotia Memorial Day parade.

Charlene Pomichter, 69, was with a group staging on a side street while preparing to enter the parade route on Mohawk Street. She was struck at around 6:40 PM by a minivan driven by 75-year-old Roger Peugh of Scotia. Witnesses say the van accelerated unexpectedly and struck Pomichter, pinning her against another van in front of her. Bystanders rushed to her aid and separated her from the vehicles; a nearby nurse and members of the Thomas Corners Fire Department treated her and performed CPR until Scotia Fire Department paramedics arrived and took Pomichter to Ellis Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Pomichter was with a contingent from the Glenville Senior Citizens Center, where she volunteered; Peugh was driving a van from the center and following the marchers. It is not known what caused the vehicle to lurch forward. Drug and alcohol use have been ruled out as factors in the crash.

The parade, which has taken place for 91 years without incident, continued as planned in spite of the tragedy, as most people involved apparently were unaware of the nature and seriousness of what had happened.

Pomichter was vice president of the Glenville Senior Citizens, a nonprofit group that runs senior programs at the Glenville Senior Citizen Center, and was very well-known for her volunteer work. Grief counselors were on hand at the center in the days following the crash to help members cope with their loss.

Counseling also was made available to Schalmont Middle School students, some of whom were playing in the school’s marching band and were right behind the van that struck Pomichter. Meanwhile, Peugh, the driver, was said to be in anguish over the incident.

Glenville Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle called it a “freak accident” that would have been difficult to foresee and prevent. As it also involved members of a close-knit community, it is not clear at this time whether damages will be sought in a wrongful-death suit. Of interest would be any defect that might have caused sudden acceleration of the minivan, as well as any negligence that can be demonstrated on the part of the village of Scotia, the parade organizers, and/or the minivan driver. Attorneys for the family of the deceased also would look at insurance coverage carried by the village, the parade organizers, and the Glenville Senior Center, which operated the van.

LaMarche Safranko Law, headquartered in Albany, New York, represents clients in personal injury cases in  throughout New York state. Call us at (518) 982-0770 or contact us for a no-obligation consultation.