29 December 2022
Major Jeffrey A. VanAuken
Troop C Commander

The New York State Police, in conjunction with the New York State Attorney General’s Office are investigating a fatal motor vehicle crash in Cortland County. 
On December 28, 2022, at approximately 10:15 p.m., a Cortland County Sheriff’s Deputy observed an SUV driving through a red traffic light at the intersection of State Route 281 and West Main St., in the Town of Cortlandville. The Deputy attempted to initiate a traffic stop on State Route 281, when the SUV failed to comply. Both the SUV and vehicle that the Deputy was operating, lost control and crashed, after failing to negotiate a turn onto the Interstate 81 on-ramp in the Town of Homer.
A rear seat passenger in the SUV, 16-year-old, Salena N. Wallner was pronounced deceased on scene. The driver of the SUV, a 15-year-old female, a 16-year-old female passenger and a 15-year-old female passenger were transported to Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse with serious injuries. The Sheriff’s Deputy sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to a local hospital for treatment. 
After the crash, it was learned that the involved SUV had been reported as a stolen vehicle from the William George Agency for Children’s Services in Tompkins County, a few minutes prior to the Deputy attempting to stop the vehicle.  
The investigation is on-going, all further questions should be directed to the New York State Attorney General’s Office. 

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