Photo submitted From left, Tanya Sleight, Elijah Sleight and Shyara Concepcion are pictured recently. All three were killed as a result of a motor vehicle collision on Route 67 in the town of Amsterdam Sunday.
By HEATHER NELLIS
Recorder News Staff
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- One of the two young children airlifted Sunday to Albany Medical Center after a motor vehicle collision on Route 67 has passed away, family members and hospital staff confirmed.
Nine-year-old Elijah Sleight succumbed to injuries after he was taken off life support early Monday morning, said cousin Elisabeth Pratt of Saratoga Springs.
He's the third fatality from the wreck -- his mom, 33-year-old Tanya Sleight, and her girlfriend, 38-year-old Shyara Concepcion, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Sleight was driving Concepcion's Honda westbound on Route 67 just before 6 p.m. when an eastbound van crossed the center lane and struck the vehicle head-on.
Elijah was riding in the back seat with his sister Naomi Sleight, 2, and brother Matthew Sleight, 7. Hospital staff said Naomi is still listed in critical condition, but Pratt said the baby is expected to recover.
"They took her breathing tube out, and she's responding, but she still hasn't opened her eyes," Pratt said.
Montgomery County Sheriff Michael Amato said Matthew was released to family after evaluations at both the scene and St. Mary's Hospital in Amsterdam.
A concerned motorist who called 911 Sunday evening to report an erratically-driven van on Route 67 witnessed the subsequent collision, said the sheriff.
Amato said the motorist asked for authorities to be dispatched to the area after seeing the eastbound van, driven by 68-year-old David Bain, swerve around before running a red light at the intersection of Mannys Corners Road.
"The witness eventually caught up to the van, which was driving fast and slow, from one side to the other, even into the other lane at one point," Amato said. "The van caused one vehicle to swerve off into the shoulder of the road, but there was no impact. The [motorist] continued north, and as they were on the phone with 911, they witnessed the accident when the van crossed into the southbound lane."
Bain's van struck Concepcion's car, which was on its way back to Amsterdam after the pair picked up Sleight's three children from the Ballston Spa area earlier in the day, Amato said.
Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Adam Schwabrow said Concepcion's vehicle was "severely damaged" at the front end.
"That's where the impact was," he said. "The van also had severe front-end damage, but I believe [Bain] got out on his own will before I got there."
Hagaman Volunteer Fire Department Chief Donny Reksc said firemen from his department and Cranesville used the Jaws of Life to get the children out of the Honda.
"We cut the roof off, and were able to get them out that way," Reksc said. "I can't express enough how well everyone worked together at this incident."
Amato said another vehicle, which was traveling behind the red Honda, was also tangled into the collision. It wasn't able to stop in time, swerved into a ditch, and grazed the front of the Honda.
"It just barely touched it," Amato said. "Those two [motorists] got out of the vehicle and were treated and released."
Amato said Bain was treated for a head injury at St. Mary's Hospital, where he consented to a drug and alcohol blood screen.
"He was driving north bound looking for Mannys Corners Road. He was dropping off a van and following a woman who was going to pick him up. When we got to the scene, he wasn't sure what transpired, but we don't know if that's an impact of the head injury."
Amato said the screen did not detect alcohol in Bain's blood, which was sent to the State Police crime laboratory for further evaluation. Authorities are currently trying to determine whether Bain had a medical condition, or if other factors played a role in the incident.
Amato said he would be working in concert with District Attorney James E. "Jed" Conboy to determine whether criminal charges should be filed, but at this time, Bain has not been charged.
Pratt said the hardest part of losing her cousins is the questions that remain to be answered.
"We can't help but wonder what led up to it," she said. "What was wrong? What made him do that? What was causing him to drive like that?"
She said she'll miss her cousin Tanya's warm heart and generosity.
"She always gave you her time," Pratt said. "She rescued me from Glens Falls once when I needed a ride. She was a very sweet, kind-hearted woman."
Pratt said Sleight and Concepcion had lived together with the three children the past year in Amsterdam.
"Shy was an amazing sweetheart to Tanya and the kids. She put a smile on all their faces, and they always looked forward to her coming home to them. Honestly, I couldn't be more proud of the way they raised the kids in the last year. I'm honored to call Tanya and Elijah my cousins, and Shy, my cousin's girlfriend."
Pratt said Tanya's mother, known to her grandchildren as "Grandma Honey," will deeply miss her daughter and Elijah.
"She loves her babies, and she's going to miss them both. We'll all miss her," she said.