MAHOPAC, N.Y. - A former Carmel police officer has been charged with second-degree aggravated vehicular homicide and DWI after a three-car accident Saturday night in Mahopac took the life of a Somers teacher’s assistant.
State police from the Brewster barracks arrested and charged Richard O’Keefe, 57, of Mahopac, with vehicular homicide, a class B felony, in the wake of the accident that happened along a stretch of Route 6 between Croton Falls Road and East Lake Boulevard. According to published reports, O’Keefe is a retired Carmel police officer and a former Town Board member.
Carmel Supervisor Ken Schmitt referred calls regarding the accident to Carmel Police Chief Mike Cazzari, who did not return calls as of press time.
State police said they were called to the scene around 10 p.m. after receiving a request from Carmel police.
According to state police, the investigation revealed that a Jeep Patriot operated by Anna Estrada, 53, of Somers, exited a parking lot to make a left-hand turn onto southbound Route 6. Police said that Estrada failed to yield the right of way to a Dodge Caravan driven by O’Keefe, which was traveling north on Route 6. O’Keefe’s vehicle struck the Jeep on the driver’s side, causing it to overturn. A third vehicle, operated southbound by 56-year-old Philip Kossin of Mahopac, was also struck as a result of the crash. Kossin was not injured.
Police said that a rear seat passenger, who was traveling with Estrada, identified as 54-year-old Frances Ghelarducci of Somers, was pronounced dead at the scene. Dr. Raymond Blanch, superintendent of the Somers Central School District, identified Ghelarducci as a “beloved” teacher's assistant at Primrose Elementary School.
Police said that Anna Estrada and her passengers, Steven Ghelarducci, 54, and Ernest Estrada, 57, both of Somers, were transported to Westchester Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. O’Keefe and his passenger, 30-year-old Michael J. Guariloff, were uninjured.
Investigators said that while they interviewed O’Keefe, they observed clues that indicated he was intoxicated at the time of the crash and he was placed in custody.
O’Keefe was arraigned in front of Justice Richard Vercollone at Southeast Town Court and remanded to Putnam County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond. He is due back in court Dec. 1.
The crash, which closed Route 6 at East Lake Boulevard until around 2:30 a.m., was reconstructed by the New York State Police Collision Reconstruction Unit. Mahopac volunteer firefighters responded to the scene as well.
According to published reports, O’Keefe retired from the police department in 2005 and was subsequently elected to the Town Board. He is also a former member of the Mahopac Board of Education. He is the brother of current town Councilwoman Suzi McDonough and Supervisor Schmitt’s brother-in-law.
Blanch sent an email to Somers parents over the weekend informing them of Ghelarducci’s death.
“Last night...our beloved classroom teacher assistant for Mrs. Maliniak and Mrs. Genez’s classes, Mrs. Fran Ghelarducci, ‘Mrs. G,’ was killed in a car accident in Mahopac,” he wrote. “As is expected, this news is shocking to us all, but will be especially so for those who had daily contact with her.”