Tappan Zee Accident Witness Says Wrong Way Driver ‘Playing Chicken’

The Tappan Zee accident Tuesday night that killed one woman and injured four was initially reported by a wrong way driver, and for New Yorkers, was an unpleasant reminder of the horrific wrong-way accident on Taconic State Parkway that killed eight people and sparked a painful, lengthy investigation.

The Tappan Zee accident also involved an inexplicable wrong way driver, but unlike the Taconic accident’s driver Diane Schuler, Michael Schechel, 69, of Thiells does not seem to be under scrutiny at this time. Schuler’s state of intoxication in the crash that killed her, her daughter, two nieces, and three passengers in another car was hotly contested by some of her family, and conflicting witness accounts led to further confusion about what precipitated the horrific crash.

In the Tappan Zee accident, Hannah Ayeh-Brachie, 56, died just before 9 PM when Schechel’s Explorer hit her Nissan, causing it to roll several times and land upside down. Three other cars subsequently crashed in the ensuing chaos.

Just like in the Taconic crash back in 2009, witnesses describe several minutes leading up to the accident during which it seemed calamity was imminent. LoHud.com quotes South Nyack resident Christian Evans, 33, who they describe as having “faced off against Schechel minutes before the accident.”

Evans said that the whole situation was bizarre, as his evasive maneuvers to prevent a collision with Schechel’s Explorer were subverted — he explains:

“It was weird, he kept coming at me. It was like we were playing ‘chicken’ for that 30 seconds. I saw him. He didn’t make an attempt to move his car. I was trying to get his attention. I [leaned] on my horn. He didn’t make any attempt to move or brake.”

Michael Gallo’s wife Nancy was kept overnight in the hospital after the Tappan Zee accident, and he says she feared for a few minutes that she’d be unable to escape the chain reaction:

“She managed to drive through the carnage… The next vehicle behind her was a tractor-trailer. She didn’t think he was going to be able to stop and was going to get hit.”

Police are still investigating the Tappan Zee accident to determine the causes.