This story is our full recap from Saturday’s press conference about the fatal crash at Simeon’s.
Ithaca, N.Y. — Viacheslav Grychanyi, from Spokane, Wash., has been ticketed after his tractor trailer crashed into Simeon’s Restaurant Friday afternoon.
Amanda Bush, 27, of Lansing, was killed in the accident. Several others were hospitalized.
Grychanyi, 37, was operating a tractor trailer owned by Auto Star Transport, located in Spokane, Wash.
He is cooperating with the investigation and has been issued tickets for being over-length and having an inadequate braking system.
Grychanyi’s wife told a translator working with The Ithaca Voice that she is aware of the accident, but that she had not spoken to her husband. (The translator is a Russian studies professor at Cornell.)
Police said Grychanyi was trying to avoid workers on the Commons as he went down East State Street at — according to witnesses — more than 40 miles per hour.
The truck skimmed a bollard – or a metal protective barrier – on the Commons before barreling into the restaurant.
Read our story from Friday: Tractor-trailer slams into Simeon’s on Commons: 1 dead, 7 injured, Ithaca grieves
“The truck just skimmed it – just to the right of it,” Mayor Svante Myrick said of the bollard.
It’s unclear what would have happened had the truck struck the bollard head-on.
“We don’t know if a truck that size, if it hit that bollard, would have been slowed down,” Myrick said.
Officials said the driver decided to try and turn when he realized that his brakes weren’t working.
Bush was a bartender at Simeon’s Restaurant and the mother of a 14-month-old child. She was working when the crash occurred and was killed on impact.
Myrick acknowledged that important questions had been raised about how to prevent future, similar accidents from occurring. (A 1999 crash on the Commons saw a garbage truck rollover on Aurora Street, tipping over on three parked cars.)
“It’s only natural for a lot of questions to be asked,” Myrick said.
“Why did it happen? Could anything have prevented it? What kind of barriers can we install?”
Those questions will be addressed, Myrick said. But for now, the immediate concern is for the victim’s family, the mayor said.
“She’s survived by loved ones; they need our support,” Myrick said.
“They need our emotional support and they need our material support. They need to know this city loves them and cares about them.”
Already, Myrick said, he has received emails from several local businesses and restaurants seeking to assist those affected by the accident.
“A lot of folks want to step in and help Amanda’s family,” said Myrick.
Myrick also mentioned that the owners of the restaurant were on the scene at the time of the accident. They provided critical help to responders, assisting in accounting for those inside the building, as well as accounting for those escorted from the building.
“I know they’re very saddened — they feel like they’ve lost a family member,” Myrick said.
At around 4 p.m. Friday, Grychanyi’s tractor trailer struck the southeast corner of the building.
By the time police arrived at the scene, a small fire was burning inside the cab portion of the tractor trailer, according to a press release.
Officers with the police department and fire department established a one-block perimeter around the building and began to evacuate the area, including the apartments located above Simeon’s Restaurant.
According to Myrick, there were 25 Ithaca police officers on the scene, as well as Cornell police and EMS, state police troopers and sheriff’s deputies. Nineteen firefighters were also on scene.
Five people were treated for injuries at the scene and transported by Bangs Ambulance to Cayuga Medical. According to the police, those transported to Cayuga Medical have been released with non-life-threatening injuries. Medical helicopters were called but canceled.
The driver of the truck was treated on the scene and only had “superficial injuries,” according to Myrick. Myrick also said that the driver is no longer being held by police.
Myrick praised responders’ courage and professionalism during the accident.
“It’s one of those things you don’t forget,” said Ithaca Fire Chief Tom Parsons.
Parsons recalled a similar incident that took place in the early 1980s in the Commons.
“I was over here 30 years ago at a very bad accident in the same location, where another woman lost her life,” Parsons said, “I’ve seen this before, a different set of circumstances but a similar tragedy.”
Mayor Myrick called it “a horrible day in the city’s history.”
Read our previous coverage: As life resumes in downtown Ithaca, a city registers its shock — and asks questions
The building that was struck is currently closed off. The City of Ithaca Engineering Office is evaluating its condition. The structure that houses Simeon’s is a landmark that has stood since the 1870s.
Local construction company Paolangeli Construction is assisting with the removal of the tractor trailer, according to a press release.
Tenants of the building were displaced and quickly relocated by the property owner and property manager of the building, according to Myrick.
The incident, while tragic, could have been even worse, according to Myrick.
“An hour later, it’s 5pm — if anybody’s been on North Aurora Street at 5 o’clock on a Friday, we have dozens of people dining outside, dozens more in the windows,” he said, “if this were 40 minutes later, an already tragic scene would have been far worse.”