For Jay Town Supervisor Randall “Randy” Douglas, a tragedy that struck his community last week was something that he knew all too well because he lived through it once before.
When an accident claimed the lives of Theresa Caito, 75, and her grandson, 7-year-old Henry D. Caito, of Jay, on Nov. 30, Douglas said that he immediately felt for the family.
Douglas experienced a similar situation when he lost his brother and cousin in a 1970 drowning incident at Twin Ponds Campsite in Peru, and Douglas said that he knew all too well the questions and fingers that may be pointed after the fact.
“The day after when the stories started to appear in the papers, there was one comment that said, ‘rest in peace, there should have been guardrails there,’” Douglas said. “I saw the same things when my family had to deal with a tragedy like this.”
The grandmother and grandson were reportedly on their way to Au Sable Forks Elementary School when the vehicle they were riding in ended up submerged in a brook on Carey Road, a section of road that has two slabs of cut stone alongside the roadway blocking part of the waterway, but does not have guiderails.
In 1970, the Jay supervisor said that his family was asked about different questions surrounding the drowing deaths of his two family members, but they had focused on what was done to try and save the lives.
“We were asked about if there was a lifeguard, if there was this or that,” Douglas said about the time following his family’s tragedy. “What we focused on was the fact that there was a State Police officer who was there and did all that he could to save them.”
Similarly, Douglas said that he had talked with the Caito family, who thanked the town DPW for the aid they provided on the scene of the car accident.
“They were in the water doing everything that they could to get those people out, and the family was very appreciative of that when we talked,” Douglas said. “They went way above and beyond the call to do whatever they could to get to those people.”
Douglas said that there was work done on that portion of the Carey Road culvert after Tropical Storm Irene devastated the area in August.
“We had done some work at that site after the storm, as we have done with many areas,” Douglas said, adding that he does not remember if guiderails were ever used on that section of road.
The supervisor added that guiderails are something that the town and highway department is constantly looking at.
“We are always looking at areas in the town that could use them,” Douglas said. “I got an email at 8:30 a.m. that morning about work in another section of town.”
The accident was the first of two over the past week, with Nadine A. Kilcullen, 49, of Horicon, killed when the car she was driving in was found upside down on Schroon River Road in Chester in the early morning hours of Dec. 5. According to reports, the car went off the road on a sharp right curve where there is no guiderail along the river. It landed several feet out into the river, upside down in about three feet of water.