Posted at: 10/15/2012 12:37 AM
Updated at: 10/15/2012 12:49 AM
By: Dan Levy
GALLATIN - Five area teenagers were recovering Sunday night from serious injuries in a single car rollover in Columbia County late Saturday afternoon. Given the circumstances, State Police say, it's a miracle they're only dealing with a multiple casualty situation and not a multiple fatal.
Police say 17-year old Austen Link, of Pine Plains, was driving recklessly and speeding excessively just before 5:00 P.M. Saturday, when his 1999 Toyota Camry wound up mangled, upside down, and leaning against a guardrail on County Route 2, near Beaver Road in Gallatin, right near the Dutchess County line.
Four of Link's friends were riding along as passengers.
"It is our belief that there was no alcohol involvement and there was no drug or narcotics use by the operator," declared Captain Scott Brown of the New York State Police. "It's also our belief that none of the occupants were wearing seatbelts and when you look at the injuries, with three broken backs, a broken leg, and a head injury, obviously there was some type of sudden impact that caused the severity of those injuries."
Link, the driver, sustained a broken back. He's being treated at St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie.
Nineteen year old We Li, of Hudson, was riding in the front seat. He was being treated for a head injury at Albany Medical Center.
Sixteen year old Kaitlyn Mclain, of Claverack, broke her back while riding in the backseat. Her 18-year old sister Amber Lynn Mclain, suffered the most serious injuries, breaking several vertebrae, and listed in critical but stable condition at Westchester Medical Center.
Another unnamed 15-year old suffered a broken femur.
"Logically, I would say, if they were wearing seatbelts, none of the injuries would have been as severe," Brown said.
The police investigation is continuing, and charges are likely pending, they say.