Weekly top reads: Fatal boating accident on Cayuga Lake, Cayuga County crime stories, COVID-19 in Cayuga County
The Citizen staff
The Citizen's top 10 most-read stories of the week.
Two extricated after three-car accident in Auburn on Arterial and North Street
Two people had to be extricated from a vehicle that had rolled on its side in a three-car crash in which three other people were injured on Wednesday night.
Auburn Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Bill DiFabio said the call for a three-car accident on the Arterial West and North Street came in at 6:17 p.m. Three people were in the vehicle that was on its side, DiFabio said, though one was out of the vehicle before the department arrived at the scene. The other two were extricated from the vehicle.
Five people were involved in the crash. Three were transported by TLC ambulances to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse for what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries and two were taken to Auburn Community Hospital, also for what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries.
The streets in the area of the accident scene were reopened to traffic around 7:30 p.m.
The Auburn Police Department was also at the scene.
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One person dead, another injured after boat strikes railroad bridge on Cayuga Lake
One person was killed and another seriously injured when their boat struck a railroad bridge on Cayuga Lake near the village of Cayuga on Friday afternoon.
Christopher Wade, 50, of Middletown, was pronounced dead at Auburn Community Hospital, according to a press release from the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office.
Jamar Lindo, 28, of Middletown, was airlifted to University Hospital in Syracuse where he was in serious condition as of early Friday night.
According to the release, at approximately 1:52 p.m., the Cayuga County 911 Center took a call reporting there was someone who had fallen off a boat somewhere in the north end of Cayuga Lake. Police, fire, and ambulance units were immediately dispatched.
Wade and Lindo were boating on Cayuga Lake in a 19-foot aluminum Tracker Bass fishing boat which was registered to Wade. The pair had been boating for most of the day and at some point struck a railroad bridge causing extensive damage to the boat. Wade was ejected from the boat and later pulled from the water by rescue personnel. Lindo was found by rescue personnel on the boat with apparent serious injuries.
Wade was transported to Auburn Community Hospital by ground ambulance where he was pronounced dead. It is unclear who was operating the vessel at the time of the accident or exactly when the accident occurred.
Anyone with information regarding this incident or who may have been on Cayuga Lake and could help to reconstruct a timeline of events is asked to contact Det. Joshua Blanchard at 315-253-3902. Tips can also be left at www.cayugasheriff.com and can be done so anonymously.
Assisting the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office with this incident were the following: Cayuga County E911 Center, New York State Police, New York State Park Police, Cayuga Fire Department, Union Springs Fire Department, Aurelius Fire Department, AMR Ambulance, Cayuga Ambulance, Lifenet Helicopter.
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Three-vehicle accident involving tractor trailer closes Route 34 in Genoa
At least two people were injured in a three-vehicle crash around 4 p.m. Thursday in Genoa.
The accident, which involved two automobiles and a tractor trailer, shut down both lanes of Route 34 between Route 90 and East Genoa Road, according to a state Department of Transportation traffic alert. The closure was expected to last up to two hours.
The automobile driver was extricated from the vehicle and was prepared by emergency personnel for an airlift. The driver of the truck was transported by ambulance for treatment for non-life threatening injuries.
One lane of Route 34 was reopened at about 6:40 p.m. and both lanes were reopened before 9 p.m.
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Port Byron man charged with sexually abusing child
A Port Byron man faces charges that he subjected a child under the age of 15 to sexual acts.
In a press release issued Monday, the New York State Police said William C. Evans III, 36, was arrested and charged with a criminal sex act, a second-degree felony. Evans was processed at the state police Auburn station and sent to the Cayuga County Jail to await Cayuga County CAP Court. The investigation is currently ongoing.
Troopers ask anyone with information regarding Evans and these incidents to contact Investigator Gregory Cool at the Waterloo Bureau of Criminal Investigation at (315) 539-3530 or email@example.com.
State police did not provide any additional details.
'It's incredible': Skaneateles protest sees large, peaceful turnout
SKANEATELES — A new group called Skaneateles for Social Justice began organizing Sunday's Black Lives Matter protest just two weeks ago. On the day of the event, the crowd didn’t stop growing until it was time to march.
From noon to 1 p.m., cars steadily filled up the the Austin Park parking lot and then spilled onto the grass as about 300 protesters gathered for a march through the Village of Skaneateles to the Clift Park gazebo. There, residents spoke about experiencing racism while visiting or growing up in Skaneateles, a predominantly white lakeside town.
Protests like the peaceful one in Skaneateles have ignited across the country in past weeks after a Minneapolis police officer fatally knelt on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, for almost nine minutes in May.
Madie Rhoad, an organizer, said she expected Sunday's crowd to consist mostly of family, friends and anyone else who wanted to join. Then, over 500 people responded to the event on Facebook.
“I wasn’t expecting this many people. It’s incredible just to see all these people coming together and supporting us,” Rhoad said.
The other organizers, Lily Datz, Cecilia Marrinan, Channa Barnes, Zoe Osborne, Hope Glowacki and Lucas Rathgeb, were busy Sunday afternoon orchestrating donations to Syracuse Black Lives Matter and getting protesters lined up.
Osborne added that the original Facebook post describing the event racked up thousands of views.
“Just looking out now, it’s kind of unreal,” she said, gesturing to the people filing in minutes before the protest was set to begin.
The organizers were happy with the 30 people who were there at 12:30 p.m., half an hour before the event began. But Osborne said people from Auburn, Syracuse and Camillus kept coming.
“It’s kind of crazy. We’re really grateful,” she said.
A Skaneateles police vehicle cleared the way for protesters to walk through residential streets between Austin Park and the commercial shopping strip along Genesee Street and Skaneateles Lake.
Those at the front led chants of “this is what democracy looks like” and “stand up, fight back” as people looked on in support or displayed signs of their own from the sidewalks. Separate chants broke out toward the middle of the march.
The march concluded at Clift Park, where speeches were scheduled to take place at the gazebo. To begin the next portion of the demonstration, Westminster Manor Executive Director Rhoda Overstreet-Wilson sang the Negro National Anthem as she did for Auburn’s demonstration.
Judy Bryant, Harriet Tubman’s great-great grandniece, addressed the crowd with some emotional impromptu remarks. She said her father built the gazebo they were speaking from.
“My dad and my grandfather would be very pleased and very proud and very happy to see you today,” she said, as the crowd stood and clapped.
Ednita Wright, a professor of human services and teacher education at Onondaga Community College, noted that Tubman could've passed through Skaneateles on her way to Canada from her Auburn home.
“Her life and radical action are what has given me the courage to believe that these times of death and sadness will lead us closer to freedom,” she said.
Wright, a Syracuse resident, said she gets nervous taking her mother out to eat in Skaneateles. They anticipate being scrutinized or hearing racist comments. She felt there were “too many eyes watching” her as she walked through the village.
“I don’t usually feel comfortable here. This is a different kind of day,” she said.
Osborne felt lucky in some ways to grow up in Skaneateles. But she still suffered from a lack of racial diversity. The Drexel University student recalled her discomfort while learning about slavery in middle school as classmates made racist comments to her.
“I never thought twice about how toxic and diminishing these comments truly were and I never saw how badly these comments attributed to how I saw myself moving forward,” Osborne said.
Marrinan discussed how she left Skaneateles High School after ninth grade to attend St. Paul’s Boarding School in New Hampshire.
“There was a time I did not feel embraced here,” she said.
At the boarding school, she found a more diverse student body, bonded with other black girls, joined clubs and was able to process the racism she experienced while in school in Skaneateles.
Marrinan said she was called the n-word at 6 years old and that classmates would wear clothes with the Confederate flag, post offensive things online and commit microaggressions targeted toward black people.
“I could not grapple with why I felt so uncomfortable in a town that in my eyes was perfect,” she said.
She said she was proud to march for the black people who died at “the hands of racism,” including Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Tamir Rice. She also stressed that she told her stories to urge action from her predominantly white community.
“Our country is on fire and we must work collectively with all races in order to extinguish the flames,” Marrinan said.
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'We're humbled': Green Shutters reopens with new owners, gluten-free menu
OWASCO — The COVID-19 pandemic has paused most summer traditions in Cayuga County — but not Green Shutters.
The historic restaurant on the edge of Emerson Park reopened May 1 under the ownership of Riccardo and Sebastian Galbato.
The brothers, who bought the business from Bob Leonardi in December, are its fourth operators since 2012.
But few know as much as the Galbatos about running a restaurant with a view of Owasco Lake. Their parents, Thomas and Carmela Galbato, opened Tom Thumb Drive-In on East Lake Road in 1978. And the brothers have spent the 42 summers ever since at the restaurant, learning how to take care of customers.
That's why, as they sat in Green Shutters on Thursday, the brothers thanked both their parents and Leonardi for making possible what is now called Seb's Green Shutters.
"We want to thank Mr. Leonardi for believing in us that we can make this iconic place a success," Sebastian said.
The Galbatos also thanked the community.
Shortly after buying Green Shutters, the brothers started asking people what they wanted to see there. Often, people told them without even being asked, they joked.
One of the most common requests was the return of the restaurant's lunch counter. Removed by previous owners Mike Schmidt and James White, the counter has been rebuilt with a white, marble finish that resembles the waves of the nearby lake. The Galbatos used wood from the benches that were in the counter's place to build it — another lesson from their father.
"He taught us, in this line of work, pay your bills on time and don't throw anything away because you don't know when you're going to reuse it," Riccardo said.
The counter is just one example of the bright new minimalist design of Green Shutters. The Galbatos also replaced the lights, converted the two small bathrooms into one that's accessible to people with disabilities, and hung blown-up postcards of Emerson Park from its days as Lakeside and Enna Jettick Park.
The menu, meanwhile, has returned to the staples of the restaurant: burgers, hot dogs and — another common request — onion rings. The Galbatos remember leaving nearby Auburn High during their lunch period to order the fried appetizer. But the onion rings at Green Shutters today are a little different than the ones there decades ago — they're gluten-free.
Riccardo, whose two sons are allergic to wheat, wanted everyone to be able to enjoy the restaurant's onion rings, french fries and chicken tenders. So he and Sebastian worked all winter on a gluten-free recipe to be used in dedicated fryers. All other items are available gluten-free, and the Galbatos ask that customers specify gluten-free orders so that they're bagged separately.
The move has already paid off in the form of grateful customers. The Galbatos recalled one mother telling them, tearfully, that her daughter had never been able to have chicken tenders before.
Other customers have said "thank you" to the brothers simply for reopening the century-old restaurant for business, they said.
"We're so pleased with the support," Sebastian said.
"And we're humbled by it," Riccardo added.
Gluten-free food is also something the Galbatos weren't able to do at Tom Thumb. But the kitchen and prep area of Green Shutters have allowed them to be creative, they said.
That's why they don't consider their new restaurant to be competing with their old one. Though both are family-friendly destinations along Owasco Lake offering simple food and ice cream, each has an advantage in selection — more food at Green Shutters, more ice cream (and miniature golf) at Tom Thumb.
So when the family began to discuss buying the restaurant after its last operators left in the fall, they came to the conclusion that it would be "a nice fit," Riccardo said.
"In this type of work, our competition's always been the weather," he said.
However, the pandemic has been another element competing with the Galbatos. Like all bars and restaurants in New York, Green Shutters was limited to takeout and delivery service until several regions of the state were permitted to begin outdoor seating June 3. The brothers said their takeout business has been good, and believe the restaurant is set up well for it, having three ice cream windows. As of Friday, Green Shutters can also seat customers indoors at 50% capacity, and in compliance with other safety guidelines from the state.
Pandemic or not, the Galbatos said they have no plans to serve breakfast at Green Shutters, as some previous owners have attempted. They will also keep the restaurant seasonal instead of year-round. But as indoor dining increases, the brothers will begin adding daily specials, they said.
What will also continue at Green Shutters, the Galbatos said, is a tradition of serving families that runs deep both at the restaurant and in their family.
"Giving a kid an ice cream cone is the coolest," Sebastian said. "Still, even after 43 years, to see the smile when you give them an ice cream cone."
The Auburn Police Department is investigating a string of suspicious motor vehicle fires. The latest one was reported Tuesday morning.
Three cars appear to have been intentionally set on fire so far in June, said Capt. James Moore. Police are working with the Auburn Fire Department, as one of the responding agencies, to identify suspects in the investigation.
APD said it plans in the near future to release specific information to the public such as the dates and street locations in the city where the cars were targeted. The suspicious vehicle fires come as shed and porch fires are also on the rise in the city, Moore said.
Another porch was set on fire June 10 around 4:45 p.m. on Sheridan Street.
Police are investigating a second group of vehicle arsons in the Mary Street and Curtis Place neighborhoods.
The first vehicle was targeted June 8 at 2:45 a.m. on Steel Street. Another vehicle was set on fire June 14 around 12:25 p.m. on Curtis Place. Two days later, a third car was set ablaze around 4:30 a.m. on Mary Street.
Police said that tips can be reported to Auburn Fire Department Investigator Travis Poole at (315) 253-4031 or firstname.lastname@example.org or APD Detective Sean DeRosa at (315) 255-4706 or email@example.com. Callers may remain anonymous.
Cayuga County woman dies from COVID-19, second death reported in county
A second COVID-19-related death — the first since early April — has been reported in Cayuga County.
The Cayuga County Health Department said an older woman who was hospitalized with COVID-19 died Sunday. The woman, a county resident, tested positive for the coronavirus early on in her hospitalization. The department noted that she later tested negative for the virus while still in the hospital.
Before her death, the health department continued to monitor the woman due to her positive COVID-19 test and hospitalization.
The woman's age wasn't released, but the health department said she had underlying health conditions.
Since the first confirmed case three months ago, there have been two COVID-19-related deaths in Cayuga County. The other was a man in his 40s who had underlying health conditions.
People with chronic health problems are at risk of serious illness or death if they contract COVID-19.
On Monday, the health department said there were no newly confirmed coronavirus cases. On Sunday, it announced that two people — a woman in her 30s living in Auburn and a woman in her 20s living outside of the city — tested positive for COVID-19. As of Monday afteroon, there have been 108 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county.
A vast majority of the people who had COVID-19 recovered from the illness. According to the health department, 102 people have been discharged from mandatory isolation. Isolation is ordered when someone tests positive for COVID-19.
Five people remain in mandatory isolation as of Monday and 52 people are in mandatory quarantine, which is because they had direct contact with a positive case. One COVID-19 patient is hospitalized.
Among most of the counties that border Cayuga, coronavirus-related deaths have been rare. Wayne County has reported four fatalities, Oswego has had three and Seneca has had two. Neither Cortland nor Tompkins have reported any resident deaths from the virus.
Onondaga County, by far the largest county in the region in terms of population, has reported 173 deaths from COVID-19.
Auburn man arrested in 2016 robbery of city restaurant
Edwin M. Roberts, of 36 Franklin St., is accused of robbing the clerk of the sub shop at knife point on Oct. 31, 2016. He was charged by Auburn police Wednesday morning with the class B felony of first-degree robbery.
Security camera footage of the incident shows a man who walked into the 251 Genesee St. business around 9 p.m. and placed an order. He then snatched a long sub knife from the counter before walking into the kitchen area to demand money from the clerk.
The suspect emptied the cash register of $826 and exited Jreck Subs in the direction of Baker Avenue, taking the knife with him.
There was no vehicle description because he left on foot, APD Detective Meagan Kalet told the The Citizen in 2017. Police identified a suspect shortly after the robbery, but the clerk couldn't pick him out of a photo array.
Kalet's investigation eventually resulted in a warrant for Roberts' arrest more than three years later. APD officers took Roberts into custody without incident around 8:43 a.m. Wednesday. He was virtually arraigned by an Auburn City Court judge and remanded to the Cayuga County Jail.