Five hurt, thousands or motorists stranded as bridge is closed for hours
BY BILL DEMAREST
SOUTH NYACK – State Police are working to discover how a Rockland County man ended up driving in the wrong direction on the Tappan Zee Bridge, causing a five-car accident that killed another Rockland resident and left thousands of motorists stranded for hours late Tuesday.
Four people, including the wrong-way driver, were injured, according to State Police, who worked to reconstruct the 8:51 p.m. accident on the Rockland County side of the bridge Tuesday night.
As of Wednesday morning, the investigation was continuing into the incident and no arrests had been made in connection with the multiple crashes and the death of Hannah Ayeh-Brachie, 56, of Hillcrest, who was a passenger in a car hit head-on by wrong-way driver Michael Schechel, 69, of Thiells, according to police.
State Police said Schechel, driving a white SUV, was driving southbound in the northbound lanes of the New York State Thruway got onto the Tappan Zee Bridge and struck a Nissan driven by Newman Ayeh-Brachie, 57, of Hillcrest. The Nissan rolled over multiple times, coming to rest on its roof in the middle lane of traffic on the bridge.
Hannah Ayeh-Brachie was pronounced dead by the Rockland County Medical Examiner’s Office at the site of the wreck. Newman Aveh-Brachie was taken to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla for treatment.
Schechel was taken to Nyack Hospital for treatment of a head injury. Luz Hoffman, 56, a passenger in Schechel’s car, was taken to Westchester Medical Center for treatment.
After the initial crash, police said, a car driven by Bronx resident Juan Robles, 34, was able to avoid Schechel’s car, but hit the Nissan driven by Newman Aveh-Brachie. Robles was not hurt.
Nancy Gallo, 44, of Basking Ridge, NJ, also avoided Schechel’s car, but hit the Bronx man’s car. Gallo was taken to Westchester Medical Center for treatment of neck pain and shock. The fifth car involved, driven by Thomas Gibson, 40, of Poughkeepsie, sideswiped Schechel’s car. Gibson, and his 10-year-old son, were not injured, police said.
The incident required state and local emergency crews from Rockland and Westchester Counties. As the incident was being investigated, State Police said northbound traffic on the New York State Thruway was diverted off the highway at Exit 9 in Tarrytown.
The incident led to lane closures that lasted up to six hours on the Tappan Zee Bridge. Police believe Schechel may have gotten onto the Thruway headed in the wrong direction in the South Nyack, Nyack or West Nyack area.