ARGYLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing following an investigation into the 2019 crash that left 72-year-old Susan Harrington dead. The New York State Attorney General’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit concluded that Deputy Cori Winch fell asleep at the wheel before the crash, which took place close to Argyle in the early hours of August 19, 2019.
Winch was also seriously injured in the accident, which occurred when his vehicle crossed the center line on State Route 40 and collided with Harrington’s vehicle.
In a statement, Attorney General James described Harrington’s death as a “horrible and unintentional tragedy” before urging law enforcement agencies to take steps to prevent fatigue at the wheel.
“My office takes its duty to investigate these deaths with the utmost seriousness. After an exhaustive examination of the facts surrounding this incident, we determined that Ms. Harrington’s death was a horrible and unintentional tragedy.
In order to prove warrant criminal conduct, the officer involved must have knowingly engaged in behavior that would have caused a substantial risk and threat. More must be done to prevent this from happening in the future, and I urge the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies to take the steps necessary to prevent and safeguard against fatigue at the wheel.
Ms. Harrington’s death was untimely and heartbreaking, and I offer my deepest condolences to her family, friends, and loved ones.”Attorney General James
As the Deputy did not engage in any conduct that might increase the risk of crashing – such as texting or using the computer in his vehicle – and toxicology reports ruled out the involvement of drugs or alcohol, the liability in the case did not rise to a criminal level.
The Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit has made a number of recommendations, including the installation of lane departure warning systems which signal the driver when a vehicle crosses into another lane.