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Lansing, N.Y. — The three young men killed in a crash between a dirt bike and an ATV in September 2014 had been drinking the night of the accident, according to police statements obtained through a Freedom of Information Request.

The three victims — Lynn Eastman III, 19; Billy Radcliffe, 21; and Zachary Radcliffe, 19 — died after the vehicles collided “head on” around 11:17 p.m. on Decamp Road in Lansing.

Both Eastman III and the Radcliffe brothers were seen drinking at a nearby residence before the crash occurred, according to police interviews conducted by sheriff’s investigators.

A toxicology report later showed that one of the three victims, Zachary Radcliffe, had a Blood Alcohol Content of .10 percent. The legal limit to drive is .08 percent.

The Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office had only said in public statements that the vehicles lacked illumination and that the crash appears to have been accidental.

In October 2014, the Ithaca Voice filed a Freedom of Information request for the results of the sheriff’s office investigation.

The FOIL request was considered denied because the county did not respond to it within the required time period. The Voice appealed the denial and received the records from the Tompkins County Attorney’s Office on Wednesday.

Sheriff Ken Lansing said in an interview on Thursday that alcohol was not originally described as a factor in the crash because all police had to go on at first were unconfirmed statements from witnesses.

The toxicology report didn’t come back until Nov. 14, 2014. At this later date, Lansing said, it didn’t make sense for law enforcement to announce that alcohol played a role in the crash. Lansing added that there were no criminal charges in the accident.

Lansing emphasized that the sheriff’s office works every day to reduce drunk driving through education, arrests and other means.

“To me, this story is told every day: The tragedy of young people not willing to grasp their actions when they’re involved in alcohol or other drugs,” he said. “It’s gut-wrenching to me.”

The new records also showed the following about the Sept. 26, 2014, crash:

» The Blood Alcohol Content for the other two crash victims does not appear to be given in the police reports turned over by the county.

» None of the crash victims had been wearing a helmet, according to the police accident report.

» The victims had been at a residence attended at one point by about 20 other people, according to witness statements. There was beer and moonshine, police reports state.

» One friend of the victims estimated that the vehicles were probably going about 35 mph. Another put the speed of the vehicles at between 40 and 60 mph.

» At least one of the people at the residence had reservations about the young men driving. “I stayed in the garage because I was not in favor of them riding in the dark,” one witness told police.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.