Fairport man accused in 490 wrong-way fatal is Afghanistan vet, grad student at Nazareth

Posted at: 11/25/2013 11:02 AM
Updated at: 11/25/2013 11:14 AM
By: Berkeley Brean

The man accused of driving drunk the wrong-way on I-490 and causing an accident that killed a 19 year-old woman from Gates, served a tour in Kandahar, Afghanistan and was getting his Master's degree from Nazareth College. 

We learned this information from Robert Rector's attorney during appearance in court this morning. Lawyer Scott Green also said Rector got a bachelor's degree in history from the College at Brockport, he's a sergeant in the New York National Guard and works at Chase Bank in quality assurance. 

State Police say the crash happened around 2:50 a.m. Saturday morning on I-490 near Ames Street. Investigators say the pick up truck driven by 30-year-old Rector of Fairport was headed eastbound in the westbound lane on Route 490. According to court papers obtained by News10NBC today, a truck driver noticed the headlights of the pick up truck driving the wrong way on 490 and called 911. At one point, police say Rector's truck hit the SUV driven by a 19-year-old Khadijah McKenzie. The impact of the crash caused the McKenzie's vehicle to roll over.

Rural/Metro ambulance took both drivers to Strong Memorial Hospital. Troopers say McKenzie was later pronounced dead at the hospital. Rector was treated at Strong and released into police custody.

The court papers do not indicate where police think Rector got on 490 the wrong way. Witness accounts in the court papers say they noticed his truck around the Mt. Read Boulevard exit. 

Rector is charged with manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter and driving while intoxicated. Troopers say the investigation is continuing and District Attorney Sandra Doorley was on scene. Rector was arraigned in Rochester City Court this morning. He pleaded not guilty. Judge Mel Castro set bail at $50,000. 

News10NBC speaks with McKenzie's family

News10NBC sat down with McKenzie's family Saturday to help paint a picture of who McKenzie was and learn more about the goals she set for herself.

Khadijah McKenzie had just called her family to say she was on her way home when a short while later they got the knock at the door.

"A detective came to the house and said my sister has been in an accident and that we should go to the hospital. When we went there about 20 minutes later, a doctor came out and said she was dead," said Sapphire Lumley, McKenzie's sister.

It was news that shocked the entire family. McKenzie had posted a picture on Instagram just hours before she died. Her family brought News10NBC into her bedroom to get a better understanding of what she was like.

"Khadijah is very outgoing. She loves to cook, she loves art and literature," said Lumley.

In her room were pieces of her artwork and  her favorite literature, pasted in a collage. Her sisters described the teenager as strong and outgoing. They said she was the rock of the family, the one who held them all together.

"It's the holidays. Christmas and Thanksgiving is very special to us and just knowing she is not here, her mother is in Jamaica. She is not able to come to a service that's going to affect our family. Khadijah would have to be shipped to Jamaica to be buried. That's  a lot of expense on our family.  His family will not have to pay for that. This is something our family has to struggle with," said Tabitha Lumley, McKenzie's sister.

There is no struggle however with the feelings they have towards the man charged with killing their sister. The family says the driver was careless and inconsiderate and they will fight for justice to be served.

"This is something our family has to struggle with, what happens to him besides he will be incarcerated while our family suffers. Why do we have to suffer for somebody who could have been more responsible," said Lumley.

McKenzie attended Gates Chili High School and most recently had taken classes at a community college in Buffalo. She was scheduled to start a new job Saturday morning working for the post office.