NYS Attorney General’s Office asked to investigate fatal crash in East Rochester

EAST ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says it has asked the NYS Attorney General’s office to independently review the circumstances that led to a fatal crash in East Rochester.

Initially, the East Rochester Police Department responded to the scene of the motor vehicle accident along Bluff Drive just after midnight on Saturday. Officers said the car went off the road with such speed, it sheered a tree in half and parts of the engine and transmission hit a home nearby.

The driver, 17-year-old Clark Palen, a senior at Aquinas Institute, was found dead when police arrived.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s office says a few days later, a community member called with concerns about what they thought was a deputy driving away from the area of the crash and had questions about what led up to it.

That complaint triggered an internal investigation. Investigators obtained camera footage from a nearby business.

“We did find a video that shows a car going by at a high rate of speed, which is the car involved in the accident, and then approximately 10 seconds later a sheriff’s car goes by with the lights on,” Undersheriff Korey Brown tells News10NBC.

The deputy did not initially stop at the crash site and only responded to the scene after neighbors called 911 to report the crash.

Lewke: Was the deputy attempting to pull Palen over? If so, how long had he been in pursuit? Did he not see the crash? Why didn’t he mention he had been in pursuit of a car in the area just before the crash?

“Those are great questions and I think if we sat here for 10 seconds in silence, 10 seconds is quite a while,” Brown said. “So, they weren’t in a direct position to be pulling him over right then, but exactly what was going on we just don’t know. All we know is what we saw in the video. Deputies don’t make 911 calls. They talk on the radio if something happened and we’re still looking into that. The deputy did respond to the motor vehicle accident but other than that we just don’t have those answers right now.”

The sheriff’s office says because of the uncertainty of what happened, it has asked the Attorney General’s Office to independently investigate the situation as well for the sake of transparency. The deputy is currently on administrative duty.

The funeral for an Aquinas senior killed in a crash is this weekend. Clark Palen of Honeoye Falls was 17-years-old. He died just days before his 18th birthday. His funeral is at 11a.m. Saturday at St. Catherine of Siena in Mendon.

A GoFundMe has been set up to create a memorial scholarship to the Aquinas Institute hockey program. You can find it here.