GENEVA — State police have identified the bicyclist killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer Friday as 17-year-old Jealousis Pereira of Stanley.
Pereira would have been a senior at Geneva High School this year.
State police said Pereira was riding parallel to the tractor-trailer, which turned right from Routes 5&20 onto County Road 6 about 3:40 p.m. Friday. Pereira began to pedal forward and collided with the truck, which eventually came to a stop on County Road 6 some 1,000 feet from the intersection, just short of the southernmost entrance to the old Tops Plaza.
On Saturday, balloons, flowers and candles marked the spot, along with a hand-lettered sign reading, “You will be missed.”
The driver of the tractor-trailer, Edward Hicks, 64, of Honesdale, Pa., did not know Pereira had been riding beside his vehicle, state police said. The tractor-trailer had stopped for the red light at the intersection and began moving only when the light turned green; no charges have been filed.
Pereira was pronounced dead at the scene by Ontario County Coroner Kevin Henderson.
The road was closed for several hours, and the New York State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit responded to inspect the tractor-trailer. State police said the Ontario County District Attorney’s Office has been informed of the accident and that the investigation is ongoing.
Friday’s accident was the second near that spot in as many weeks.
On Aug. 20, a vehicle exiting the plaza onto County Road 6 failed to yield the right of way and struck a southbound pickup truck, police said. The pickup overturned, injuring Josephine E. Bovenza, 97, of County Road 6, and Viola F. Venuti, 88, of White Springs Lane.
Aside from the location, that collision and Friday’s had little in common. But they have focused attention on the intersection and on that section of County Road 6.
“We’re going through the comprehensive plan [process], and we’re looking at all safety and roads and traffic flow,” Town Councilman Mark Palmieri said Saturday. “We’ll give [that area] more attention considering what’s happened.”
Officials said the intersection itself has been problematic in the past, but the stretch of County Road 6 beside the plaza has not.
“That section of County Road 6, really we haven’t had much there,” said Tim Higgins, chief of the White Springs Fire Department, which is located just down the road. “[Routes] 5&20 and County Road 6, that’s a different story. That intersection, we average probably one every two months there. Fifty percent of them are serious.”
Town Councilwoman Melissa Nault, who uses County Road 6 three or four times a week on her way to work, agreed with Higgins about both the intersection and County Road 6.
Both said they see it as a coincidence that two major accidents would occur at that spot in such a short time span.
“But certainly the traffic on and around that intersection has been a source of concern in the past and is certainly something we’ll want to consider, given what’s happened,” Nault added.
At least some drivers would appreciate that.
Jesse Wood of Himrod, who stopped at the plaza Saturday, said he often drives on County Road 6, also known as Pre-Emption Road, and that it can get “pretty hectic” at times.
“Sometimes, when the cars come down Pre-Emption, they think it’s every man for himself,” Wood said. “They need to find a way to get that traffic to slow down.”
But Brian Santora of Penn Yan, who was coming out of Big Lots, said he had never thought of County Road 6 a bad area to drive.
Nor had his wife, Alison.
“[Routes] 5&20 always seems dicey,” she added, although she thinks it has improved with the recent road work and sidewalk installation.
Nault had additional ideas for making the area safer, including looking at reduced speed limits. Wood suggested the same thing, along with bike lanes.
Higgins, meanwhile, suggested more signs or even trying to reduce the gradient on 5&20.
“It’s tough,” he said. “They’ve tried a lot of stuff at that intersection. They’ve put strobes in the traffic lights. They’ve changed the traffic lights to LEDs to make them brighter.”
For now, his department is coping with the fallout of responding to such serious accidents.
“We’re actually having a debriefing tomorrow for everyone that the county has arranged, have a counselor coming down to talk to us about the situation,” Higgins said. “It’s tough when it’s a child — even a teenager.”
Pereira enrolled in the Geneva school district on Aug. 12. Prior to that, he was a student in the Marcus Whitman school district, though he attended Geneva Middle School previously.
“This is heartbreaking news for our school district,” said Geneva Superintendent Trina Newton. “I had the opportunity to meet Jealousis this summer. I was immediately struck by how kind and polite he was. Our prayers are with Jealousis’ family and friends, as well as the brave emergency personnel who responded to this tragic accident.”
“The Marcus Whitman Central School District is deeply saddened by the loss of Jealousis,” said Marcus Whitman Superintendent Jeramy Clingerman. “He was a polite, kind-hearted person who loved his family. He enjoyed his time as a member of the chorus and was part of the Horticulture Club. Any Marcus Whitman students who may need to see counselors to discuss this sudden loss of their classmate may come to the school on Monday.”
This has been the second tragedy for the Geneva school district this summer. Earlier this month Rickara Patterson, who would have been a sixth-grader at the Middle School, was killed in a car accident.
“Both of these students will be deeply missed,” said Newton. “We will do our utmost to support the many who knew and loved them, both in the Geneva and Marcus Whitman communities.”