Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner

Office of Public Information
[518] 457-8182

For immediate release:

Thursday, June 8, 2000

Inmate dies while working on church painting project

An inmate from the Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility's minimum-security camp died Thursday afternoon in a freak accident while a member of a supervised inmate crew that was scraping a local church in preparation for repainting it.

The 10-inmate crew was working at the Good News Worship Center on Ballard Road in Wilton, located approximately three miles from the prison in Saratoga County. The single-story church has a steep roof and stands approximately 20 feet tall.

Inmates were using the church's 18-foot aluminum extension ladder to access the roof when they needed to move the ladder. An inmate and a Correction Officer began to slide the ladder along the building at approximately 1:35 p.m. A gust of wind grabbed the top of the ladder, a second inmate tried to help them control it, but the trio lost their battle for control. The ladder struck a power line about 12-14 feet out from where it entered the west wall of the church. All three were knocked to the ground by the intensity of the shock.

One inmate was transported by ambulance to Saratoga Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 2:30 p.m. He was the inmate who came to assist in the unsuccessful attempt to stabilize the ladder. An autopsy under the auspices of the Saratoga County Coroner's Office will be performed to determine the official cause of death. The other inmate and the Officer, who did not appear to suffer any obvious injury, were taken to the same hospital. They will remain overnight for observation.

The name of the deceased is being withheld until the Department receives confirmation of notification of next of kin. He is 34 years old and was serving a 1999 sentence of 1 1/2 -3 years for a grand larceny committed in New York County. His original parole eligibility date of May 14, 2000, was extended to May 2002 by the Board of Parole. His maximum sentence would have ended in August 2003. He had previously served both four- and two-year sentences for separate convictions for robbery.

Mt. McGregor is a medium-security prison housing 550 inmates. Adjacent to the prison is the minimum-security camp whose 350 inmates include those working in community crews. This crew had begun work on the church on Monday, and expected to finish scraping and painting the structure by the end of next week. The crew is among more than 2,500 inmates statewide who go out and perform community service work each weekday. While historical records were not immediately available this afternoon to ascertain the date of the last death of a work crew inmate, staff believe this is the first death in several years.

Work at the site has been ordered suspended by Commissioner Glenn S. Goord, at least until investigations into the incident are completed by this Department's Office of the Inspector General as well as by the Saratoga County Sheriff's Department.